Solon renews call for passage of bill granting funeral discounts for the poor


As dying has become as “costly as living itself” in the Philippines, a lawmaker has renewed his call for the immediate passage of a measure granting a 50-percent discount from funeral services to indigent families and granting free funeral services for extremely poor families nationwide.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, citing a survey done on funeral services by the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning in 2005, said the average funeral service package was P25,000, while memorial lots in public and private cemeteries cost an average of P50,000 for a lot package including succeeding lease payments.

But according to Zarate, the Free Funeral Services for Indigent Families or House Bill 5249 is still pending  at the House Appropriations Committee even if it was passed by the House Committee on Poverty Alleviation more than a year ago “to help alleviate the plight of our poor people.”

“Dahil sa dinadaanang pandemya ng ating mga kababayan ngayon na mahigit 40,000 na ang namatay sa Covid19 alone, talagang urgent na din na maipasa ang panukalang batas na ito.  Katunayan nagtataasan pa nga ang singil ng mga punerarya sa mga namatayan nating kababayan sa Covid at iba pang sakit. Sa panahong ito ng undas, dapat maisip at mabigyan ng kagyat na pansin ito ng Kongreso at ng maibigay na  ang kaunting tulong na ito sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan na nawalan ng mahal sa buhay,” said the progressive solon.

In  September last year, the House Committee on Poverty Alleviation chaired by Caloocan City 1st District Rep. Dale Malapitan, approved an unnumbered bill, which substituted House Bill No. 5249.

“The committee passed a substitute bill seeking to grant a 50 percent discount on funeral services to indigent families and free funeral services to extremely poor families nationwide,” said the Davao-based solon.

“In the Philippines, dying has become as costly as living itself especially now under the current crisis aggravated by the Covid pandemic. This is because most Filipinos already live lives of utter poverty and still die poor and indebted till the end. Funeral services generally are expensive, a stark and difficult reality confronting the large majority of impoverished Filipinos,” said the Deputy Minority leader.

The measure seeks to provide immediate relief to the poor, especially during the loss of their loved ones.

The substitute bill, to be known as the “Free and Discounted Funeral Services Act” provides free funeral services for extremely poor families by accredited mortuaries anywhere in the country.

The measure defines “poor” as those families whose income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and/or who cannot afford in a sustained manner to provide their minimum basic needs of food, health, education, housing or other essential amenities of life, as defined under Republic Act No. 8425, the Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act.

It provides that the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) established under Republic Act No. 11315 of the local government unit, with the supervision of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), shall be used to determine the degree of indigency of the family, whether indigent or extremely poor.

“Under the measure, free funeral services shall be given to only one family member per month per mortuary branch, provided that it does not exceed the cost of the mortuary’s minimum funeral service package. The grant of free funeral services under the proposed Act is without prejudice to the right of the beneficiary to avail of upgraded funeral services given by the mortuary and the difference in cost shall be borne by the family of the deceased, the bill provides. The bill also grants a 50 percent discount on funeral services to indigent families by mortuaries anywhere in the country, but would only be applicable to At-Need funeral services only,” he said.

“We trust that the Appropriations Committee can soon hear the measure and approve it soon as well to help our poor people cope with the rising cost of funeral services,” Zarate added.

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