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Senate bill seeks free funeral services for extremely poor families

Senator Raffy Tulfo has filed a bill seeking to provide free funeral services to extremely poor families nationwide.

While there is an existing burial assistance program by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Tulfo said Senate Bill 1695 seeks to institutionalize the provision of said assistance.

This benefit, he said, shall include the preparation of funeral documents, embalming, viewing, burial, or cremation. Accredited mortuaries shall also provide a casket or urn under the proposed measure, he added.

"In the Philippines, funeral and burial services can range from 10,000 to hundreds of thousands of pesos. As such, many poor families are not only wracked with grief but also deep financial stress that may even lead them to borrow funds from lenders with high interest rates," Tulfo said in his explanatory note.

The bill will cover families whose combined gross income does not exceed P15,000 per month, and does not own real property or a vehicle.

Extremely poor families shall be provided with free funeral services anywhere in the country and it will be given to only one family member per month per mortuary branch.

The funeral service which will be granted for free shall not exceed the cost of the mortuary's minimum funeral service package.

However, families who will benefit from the free funeral services can still avail of upgraded funeral services given by the mortuary. The difference in cost will be borne by the family of the deceased.

The standard package of funeral services will cover the following:

  • Transfer of the deceased from the place of death to the mortuary for embalming and applying of cosmetics within a 25-kilometer radius of the mortuary
  • An ordinary plain casket and casket stand for viewing of body or urn in case of cremation
  • Two to three days viewing outside the funeral chapels such as the barangay hall or residence of the family
  • Use of funeral viewing equipment including lighting and arania
  • Use of funeral vehicle for interment within a 25-kilometer radius from the place of viewing to the place of burial
  • Unless for a compelling reason, interment only on weekdays and on official time, Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except on regular holidays

Under the measure, families must submit the following documents in order to avail of the free funeral services:

  • Certificate of indigency issued by the barangay or the local social welfare office of the local government unit, stating whether the family is extremely poor as defined in the bill.
  • death certificate
  • funeral contract between the beneficiary-family, the accredited mortuary, and the authorized DSWD personnel

Mortuaries granting free services to extremely poor beneficiaries may seek reimbursement for the cost of the services from any regional office of the DSWD upon the approval of the regional director.

SB 1695 has been referred to the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development. —Hana Bordey/KBK, GMA Integrated News