CEBU CITY, Philippines- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Oﬃce (DENR) has momentarily stopped the construction of the cemetery in a hinterland area here that is primarily intended for those who will die of COVID-19.
ABS-CBN CebuTeleradyo reported that the DENR- City Environment and Natural Resources Oﬃce (CENRO) has stepped in after they found out that about 300 fully-grown mahogany trees were cut by some workers of the Cebu City government without ﬁrst securing the necessary
“permit to cut” and clearance from its Protective Area Management Bureau (PAMB).
“Our investigation in due time will be sent to our head oﬃce,” Mardione Delos Reyes, a CENRO oﬃcer told a Teleradyo Cebu news crew in a mix of English and Cebuano.
The video footage of the news showed the cut trees being laid on the ground as the city hall workers had it chainsawed. It was not clear whether the cemetery which is being built in the city-owned lot in Sitio Katives 2 in Barangay Guba has also secured the environmental and sanitary permits but early on a team that included the members of the Visayas Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) have already inspected the site, about 20 kilometers from Uptown Cebu City.
Guba Barangay Captain Orland Herrera said that they have no objection to the construction of the cemetery as they see its immediacy because of the COVID-19 pandemic that already caused several deaths in the city, considered as the country’s “COVID-19 hotspot. “
The Cebu City council recently approved the construction of the cemetery which is also being eyed to cater to some other burials in the future.
The sponsor of its resolution, Councilor Dave Tumulak, reasoned that a new cemetery is needed as the other existing cemeteries can not anymore cope up as there has been a surge in the number of COVID-19 deaths.
Tumulak revealed relatives of COVID-19 fatalities prefer burying their dead immediately as cremation would still take time as the crematoriums in the city are already overwhelmed. IATF regulations stipulated that COVID-19 fatalities should be disposed of preferably by cremation within 24 hours.
The city councilor also said that cremation is expensive as it would cost P30,000-P50,000 while an ordinary burial will just entail between P10,000 to P20,000.
Tumulak said once completed the city-run cemetery will be called Cebu City Memorial Botanical Garden which can also be a source of livelihood for residents in the area.
As of July 8, Cebu City has 260 deaths out its 7,078 COVID-19 cases.
(All images screengrab from Abs-Cbn Teleradyo Cebu)