Some of the cadavers stored in an ‘abandoned’ building in Cebu City being investigated for possible mishandling of bodies. (Screengrab from viral video/Dave Tumulak)
Local authorities in Cebu City are investigating the alleged illegal and unsanitary storage of human cadavers in an abandoned building along the National Highway in Barangay Basak-Pardo.
Upon receiving information about the cadavers, Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, chairperson of the city council’s committee on disaster risk and management, inspected the facility and confirmed the presence of at least 16 cadavers.
Tumulak said that at least three bodies died due to Covid-19 and the rest reportedly of natural causes at home.
He said the City Health Office is looking into the incident and is now looking for the owners of the building.
In a viral video, various cadavers are seen sprawled on stretchers covered only by sheets.
Some of the cadavers are cramped in at least four chest freezers commonly used in storing food products. Tumulak said each freezer contains two cadavers.
Residents of the area believed that the building is a working morgue because bodies are brought into the building almost every day.
A certain SJ Palomar who identified himself as the owner of St. Bernard Funeral homes told local reporters that the building is not abandoned but is used as their old morgue.
Palomar admitted that they might have some lapses on how they are handling the corpses. He said the corpses seen on the floor are unclaimed since 2020 and those inside freezers are due for cremation.
“There’s a long list of cremation in the city. We are just freezing them in respect to their families’ requests,” he said in Cebuano.
For months, Cebu City has experienced a shortage of burial areas as crematoriums could not cope with the rising cases of deaths, mostly brought by the pandemic.
The city has started construction of at least 400 additional niches in at least four public cemeteries to address the shortage.
Local health officials have urged families to bury their dead instead of cremation that can cost up to P20,000. Ryan Sorote