As the lead agency in the Management of the Dead and the Missing (MDM), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) enjoins all local government units (LGUs) in Region 13 – Caraga to prepare for the repatriation of Human Remains (HR) of deceased Overseas Filipinos (OFs), particularly from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), specified on the DILG Memorandum dated July 3, 2020 regarding the "Repatriation of the Remains of OFs and the Management of Bereaved Families during the COVID-10 Pandemic."
“By this time, all LGUs shall already have designated a public and private cemeteries or private burial grounds for the disposal of human remains or cremains for PUIs (Patients Under Investigation) and confirmed COVID-19 cases,” said DILG 13 Regional Director Lilibeth A. Famacion.
She added that as early as March this year, all LGUs in the region were already directed to organize and convene their LGU Teams on MDM.
On July 10, 2020, the first batch of HRs arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport with more coming in the next days. These HRs who died from COVID-19 and other causes in the KSA were not embalmed and were transported in sealed metal coffins to the country, thus, needed proper handling and management for its disposal.
HRs of deceased OFs arriving in the region will be treated as COVID-19-related-deaths even if the cause of death is other than that since the KSA is a country with a high incidence of the dreaded coronavirus disease.
LGUs concerned must observe the Interim Guidelines on the Management of HRs for PUI and Confirmed COVID-19 Cases pursuant to DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2020-063 dated March 27, 2020.
Other policies that need to be observed by LGUs include the Department of Health (DOH) – Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) Memorandum Circular No. 2020-23 dated July 1, 2020 entitled “Interim Guidelines for the Admission of Human Remains Into the Philippines During the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic” and DOH Memorandum 2020-0067 dated February 3, 2020 entitled “Guidelines on the Disposal and Shipment of Remains of Confirmed Cases on 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Syndrome.”
Famacion stressed that the personal details of a person whose cause of death was COVID-19 related shall be highly confidential, thus, she reiterated that it shall be unlawful for any person to disclose the personal identity of the deceased to the general public.