The House of Representatives has approved a bill on its third and final reading that outlines guidelines for the proper burial of Muslim Filipinos, ensuring adherence to Islamic rites.
During the House plenary session held on Tuesday, September 5, House Bill (HB) No. 8925, titled the “Philippine Islamic Burial Act,” received resounding support, with 234 lawmakers voting in favor of the bill, and none abstaining or opposing it.
The proposed HB No. 8925, if enacted into law, would permit the burial of deceased Muslims even without a death certificate. Instead, the bill stipulates that it shall be reported by the individual who performed the Islamic burial rites or the next of kin of the deceased to a local health officer, who will then be responsible for preparing the death certificate.
1) Hospitals, medical facilities, funeral homes, morgues, detention centers, or correctional facilities are required to release the bodies of deceased Muslims within a 24-hour timeframe
2) The body should be covered with white fabric and carefully enclosed in an airtight bag or a sealed, leak-proof wooden box, secured with zippers, tape, or bandage strips.
3) Unsettled financial obligations, including hospital bills, medical charges, professional fees, wrapping expenses, and transportation costs, can be grounds for retaining the deceased’s remains.
The bill acknowledges that unpaid costs can be resolved through various payment schemes, including the execution of a promissory note for the unpaid obligation or other mutually acceptable arrangements between the concerned parties.
Furthermore, the bill imposes penalties for any unjustifiable withholding of Muslim cadavers. It states that “Any person or entity who withholds or otherwise causes, directly or indirectly, the withholding of Muslim cadavers in their possession […] for other unjustifiable reasons shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one (1) month, but not more than six (6) months, or a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00), but not more than one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), or both, at the discretion of the court.”
Both the Department of Health and the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos have been designated and tasked with formulating the rules and regulations necessary for the effective implementation of the bill, should it be signed into law by the President.