The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as the lead agency in the Management of the Dead and the Missing enjoins all local government units in Region 13 – Caraga to prepare for the repatriation of Human Remains (HR) of the deceased Overseas Filipinos (OFs), particularly from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as per Urgent Memorandum from DILG Central Office dated July 3, 2020 relative to the Repatriation of the Remains of Overseas Filipinos and the Management of Bereaved Families during the COVID-10 Pandemic.

By this time, all LGUs shall already have designated a public and private cemeteries or private burial grounds for the disposal of human remains / cremains for PUIs and confirmed COVID-19 cases,” emphasized by DILG 13 Regional Director Lilibeth A. Famacion, CESO III. She also added that as early as March this year, all LGUs in the region were already directed to organize and convene their LGU Teams on the Management of the Dead and the Missing (MDM).

Last 10th of July 2020, the first batch of HRs arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and there will be more in the coming days. These HRs who died from COVID-19 and other causes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were not embalmed and will be transported in sealed metal coffins to the country, thus, needs proper handling and management for its disposal.

For HRs of deceased OFs arriving in the region even if the cause of death is other than COVID-19, the HRs will be treated as COVID-19 related deaths since the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a country with high-incidence of the dreaded coronavirus disease, thus, the LGU concerned must observe the Interim Guidelines on the Management of Human Remains for Patient Under Investigation (PUI) and Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Cases pursuant to DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2020-063 dated March 27, 2020.

Other policies that need to be observed by LGUs include the Department of Health (DOH) – Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) Memorandum Circular No. 2020-23 dated July 1, 2020 entitled “Interim Guidelines for the Admission of Human Remains Into the Philippines During the Time of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic” and DOH Department Memorandum 2020-0067 dated February 3, 2020 entitled “Guidelines on the Disposal and Shipment of Remains of Confirmed Cases on 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Syndrome (2019-nCOV ARD).”

Director Famacion highly stressed that the personal details of a person whose cause of death is COVID-19 related shall be highly confidential, thus, she reiterates the policy that it shall be unlawful for any person to disclose the personal identity of the deceased to the general public.

 

By LGOO VI Florian Faith Jr. P. Bayawa

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