Rizal town mayor in hot water for rejecting 2 Muslims’ burial

April 02, 2020

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will issue a show cause order against a town mayor in Rizal who allegedly refused to allow the burial in their locality of two Muslim Filipinos who died of COVID-19 which is “a clear defiance of government guidelines on burial amid the public health emergency situation in the country.”

DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that the mayor reportedly refused the signing of applications for burial permits and the families of the deceased had to bring the bodies to the Muslim cemetery in Norzagaray, Bulacan where the victims were laid to rest. The first victim died on March 22 who was buried only after almost two days while the second died on March 30.

“Limitado ang Muslim cemeteries dito sa Metro Manila. Huwag na po sana nating dagdagan pa ang pighati ng mga namatayan na nagnanais lamang na maayos na mailagak sa huling hantungan ang kanilang namatay na mahal sa buhay,” he said.

In the Islamic faith, the deceased are to be buried within 24 hours.  The Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula also said that ritual bathing of the body in accordance with Muslim rites may be done if the health authorities say it is safe, otherwise a Muslim doctor may perform tayammum or dry ablution to the dead prior to placement inside a cadaver bag. The janaza or the Islamic funeral prayer is to be done at the graveyard.

Guidelines issued by the Department of Health on February 3 on the disposal and shipment of COVID-19 victims stipulate that burial must be done within 12 hours, with cremation as the preferred method, but "to the most possible extent, be in accordance with the person's religion or customs.”

The DILG is currently investigating the two incidents in coordination with its attached agency, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), which received the reports directly from the victims’ families when they were baffled where to bury their dead.