Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure defining and penalizing the crime of desecrating cadavers of individuals with stiffer fines and penalties against morgues and funeral homes which participate in camouflaging the death of suspected criminals.
De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1479 which seeks to protect the sanctity of the human body from unscrupulous individuals who willfully and knowingly desecrate them through unlawful dismemberment, disfigurement, mutilation or burning, among others.
“With the appalling wave of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, and perhaps thousands of unaccounted or undiscovered deaths of the disappeared, it is incumbent to craft a law that will guarantee to the departed a respectful interment,” she said.
De Lima cited the kidnapping and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo whose corpse was cremated under highly irregular circumstances at the St. Nathaniel Crematory in La Loma, Caloocan City last Oct. 19.
Jee, a resident of Angeles City, Pampanga, was reportedly kidnapped by some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) despite the PhP5-million ransom paid for his freedom by his wife. He was strangulated to death inside the PNP compound.
In the course of police investigation, cremation records showed that Jee was cremated under the name of Jose Ruamar Salvador of Sta. Quiteria, Caloocan City. His ashes were flushed down to the toilet to hide any trace of evidence.
“The murderous act and blatant disrespect for the dead in this story is so beyond the pale that it is revolting event to strangers to the Jee family,” said De Lima who was among the senators who led a Senate probe on the highly-suspicious kidnap-slay of Jee.
“Unfortunately, the story of Mr. Jee is not isolated in terms of deaths resulting from possible enforced disappearance cases,” she added.
SB 1479 seeks to provide a mechanism for a respectful internment of the dead in accordance with his religious beliefs or his expressed wishes – or when none can be determined, in accordance with the preference of the family or authorized third party.
The measure also seeks to ensure that funeral establishments, morgues, crematorium and similar facilities are not used to hide or destroy evidence of crime, destroy or hide cadavers of individuals whose death are caused by any crime.
Under SB 1479, morgues and funeral homes where cadavers of individuals suspected of having died from crimes are brought to are required to immediately inform the nearest police station and record the name of person who brought the cadaver.
The proposed measure seeks to penalize the following acts, to wit:
- Tamper with the evidence of a crime;
- Camouflage the death of a human being;
- Impede or prohibit the detection, investigation or prosecution of a crime;
- Alter, inhibit or conceal the identification of a dead boy, crime victim or a criminal offender;
- Disrupt, prohibit or interfere with any law enforcement agency from detecting, investigating, examining, determining, identifying or processing a cadaver, cause of death, scene where a dead body is found or any forensic tests;
Inter or permit interment or other disposition of any cadaver, cremate or allow transfer for cremation purposes without proper burial, cremation permit, and clearances from the PNP and local government unit.