Funeral home owner says cadavers in ‘bodega’ were not abandoned

By: Dyrecka Letigio August 17,2021 - 01:28 PM

| Screen grabbed from the video of Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak.

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The management of St. Bernard’s Funeral Homes in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City insisted that the bodies found in a bodega in Barangay Basak San Nicolas that was recently found in a raid by authorities were not abandoned and were managed properly.

SJ Palomar, the owner of St. Bernard’s, said the bodega is actually an extension morgue of their funeral home, which was just a few blocks away from the site. It had been under their ownership since 2008.

Palomar said that the four of the 16 bodies Councilor David Tumulak saw inside the bodega were actually unclaimed bodies since 2020, which they could not bury until six months after unless claimed.

READ: Cebu City to probe presence of cadavers in abandoned building

The unclaimed bodies were temporarily placed on the floor as they were rearranging the freezer because they needed to take out some bodies for cremation.

The other bodies inside the freezer, which Palomar admitted to being just ordinary freezers and not mortuary freezers, were claimed bodies due for cremation in other funeral homes since they did not have their own cremation facility.

“Kana nga freezer, ordinaryo ra na nga freezer. Ang pinakataas nga magstay dinha kay ten days. Nya ang ubang funerals mohangyo nga before icremate, ipagawas daan, so among ipagawas,” he said.

Most of these bodies in the freezer would stay up to ten days because of the long backlog of cremations in the city due to the rise in deaths.

Palomar also admitted that they are still working on the permits of the bodega as a morgue from the City Health Department, but as they were working through the legalities, they offered the space because many families have been asking for a space to store their deceased loved ones.

“Naa man gyod na sa funeral nga mofreeze ta, pero sa kuan (morgue), naa miy lapses ana, moadmit mi naa miy lapses ana. Pero sa amoa tabang lang mi sa mga funeral homes,” he said.

The owner said they do accept storage for COVID-19 victims, but these are immediately sent to cremation when a facility schedule opens up.

He also denied that COVID-19 positive victims were among those found by the councilor during the raid. He insisted as well that the morgue was operated cleanly and professionally.

As for the unclaimed bodies, Palomar said that they are now working with the city government to identify a space to bury them soon.

/bmjo

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TAGS: barangay Basak San Nicolas, Councilor David Tumulak, St. Bernard's Funeral Homes

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