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DENR fast-tracks processing of permits for crematoriums amid deaths due to COVID-19

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday said its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is streamlining the process to expedite the opening of more crematoriums in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"'Yung mga crematorium na nagbubukas ngayon pina-fast-track natin 'yung mga documentation nila, 'yung kanilang permits and approval na kailangan sa EMB eh kumbaga talagang minadali natin," Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said in a virtual press conference for the 33rd anniversary of the DENR.

"Alam naman natin na because of rising deaths sa COVID, eh talagang kailangan i-cremate ang mga bangkay kung kaya minamadali natin. Ito 'yung nakikita nating maitutulong natin para hindi na makapanghawa pa ang patay," he added.

According to Antiporda, out of the 89 crematoriums nationwide, only 69 are operational. Since March 18, these facilities have cremated 8,131 bodies of COVID-19 patients, suspected cases, and of those without the virus.

As of June 9, the Philippines recorded a total of 22,992 COVID-19 cases with 4,736 recoveries and 1,017 deaths. Only six new deaths were reported on Tuesday.

Seventy-five percent or 758 of the COVID-19 fatalities in the country were recorded in Metro Manila where there are 16 operational crematoriums capable of processing 66 bodies per day.

Ten other crematoriums in the capital region are currently not in operation, Antiporda said.

In April, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the Cabinet officials agreed that the cadavers of patients who succumbed to COVID-19 must be cremated within 12 hours after death.

"Ang desisyon ng grupo ng mga Cabinet secretaries, dapat yung 12 hours na cremation dapat ma-fulfill yan. Ang nagiging problema ay 'yung delay sa payment, naghihintayan ng bayad. So ang naging desisyon ng Gabinete is do not wait for payment. Kung kailangan i-cremate, i-cremate na 'yan at huwag nating hintayin na kung sino pa magbayad at magturuan," he said.—AOL, GMA News