Rough Cuts: ‘Overpopulation’ in public cemeteries

This is one service of the city government which we feel is either taken for granted, or that the person in charge of overseeing its operation does not know its importance to the people of the city.

What we are talking about here is managing the operations of the city’s many public cemeteries like the ones at Wireless, Mintal, Calinan, Panacan, Toril, and many other areas in the city. Some of these cemeteries are “overpopulated” that lately, these concerned public burial grounds cannot anymore accommodate even a single dead to be buried.

This sad situation of some of the city’s cemeteries came to our attention when this week the family of a friend of ours who died last week had to haggle with the problem of finding a public cemetery to bury their dead.

They wanted their departed to be buried at the Mintal public cemetery to be near the tomb of his wife who died ahead of him. But they were rejected because the cemetery is reportedly undergoing some upgrading.

Since our departed friend’s residence is nearer to Calinan, the family decided to bury his body at the Calinan public cemetery. This time they were again rejected. According to one of the departed’s daughter, they were advised by the caretaker that the cemetery cannot anymore accommodate even one tomb because the burial ground is already too full and there is not even a square foot of space to dig for the coffin containing the body to be buried. A dead body can only be allowed for resting at the Calinan cemetery, they were told, if a concrete niche will be built on top of an existing niche of a relative. And since our dead friend has none of his kin buried in the Calinan public cemetery his cadaver should be brought and buried in another cemetery.

The result of the rejection led the family of our friend to bury his body at the Gumalang public cemetery which is some kilometers farther from the Calinan public burial grounds. We could only imagine the hassle the family members of the departed have to suffer in finding, and later bringing the cadaver to his final resting place. The Gumalang cemetery is quite far from the residence of the departed in Talandang, Tugbok district.

Frankly, we have no idea as to what particular office in the City Government that has jurisdiction over the public cemetery operation. We are not also certain if it is the Church in whose parish the cemetery belongs that oversees the public cemetery under its parochial jurisdiction.

But what we can be certain about is that these cemeteries have long been in use and it cannot be denied that these are not expanding in area even as the number of people dying is growing by leaps and bounce over the years, notwithstanding the advances in the science of medicine.

Hence, we believe that may be, it is about time that the top officials of the office that has jurisdiction over cemetery operations should get out of the confines of their air-conditioned offices and visit the different public burial sites to check on its situation.

And perhaps, as a matter of performing their defined responsibilities, public cemetery caretakers should take time out of their fence sitting habit and make written report or semblance of such and submit it to the head of the office they belong. At least they can claim that they have done something of significance for those who are about to return to where their body came from – dust.

Hopefully also, this particular department in the city government should have given the public reasonable time to be informed of any plan by the government on this and that cemetery. Or, with the proper inputs from the cemetery caretakers, the said office could have made some proposals to the city administration to acquire lands to be utilized as new public cemeteries. And possibly, the same office could have presented a superbly planned configuration of the new cemetery where the possibility of too much congestion in only a short while could be avoided.

If this is not being done for now, and still ignored in the days to come, then we could not prevent some people to think that certain officials of that particular office in the city government might be playing balls with the owners of large and high-end private memorial parks.

After all, with more public cemeteries perceived to have zero vacant space for the burial of the dead, the better for the private memorial park business. Imagine how much a one meter by 6 meters by one and a half meter deep burial space now sells?

Yes, indeed. Some shrewd individuals are abetting the profitability of investing in memorial parks nowadays.

Posted in Opinion