Discounted funeral services for poor sought

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    BAYAN Muna party-list lawmakers have filed a bill proposing to grant a 50 percent discount on funeral services to indigent families and granting free funeral services to the “extremely poor” or the poorest of the poor.

    “In the Philippines, dying has become as costly as living itself. This is because most Filipinos already live lives of utter poverty and still die poor and indebted till the end,” stated the explanatory note of House Bill No. 5249 or the “Funeral Service Discounts Act”
    Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite filed the bill last Oct. 23.

    “Funeral services generally are expensive, a stark and difficult reality confronting the large majority of impoverished Filipinos,” they said.

    HBN 5249 cited a 2005 survey by the University of the Philippines’ School of Urban and Regional Planning which revealed that the average funeral service package costs P25,000.
    The same survey said memorial lots in public and private cemeteries cost an average of P50,000 for packages, including lease payments.

    The lawmakers said there are also instances where a funeral wake lasts for more than a week only because families and relatives are still gathering enough funds to pay for the wake and burial expenses.

    “Death to one’s family member becomes doubly tragic for those who earn a measly P429 a day in the NCR,” they said, noting that there are 25 million Filipinos living on less than P50 a day in 2012 based on data from the National Statistical Coordination Board.

    This wage structure and economic data, they said, “demonstrate that our people can neither sustain their daily needs let alone be able to shoulder funeral expenses of their departed loved ones.”

    “It is the duty of the State to provide for the welfare and security of its citizens. This measure aims to provide immediate relief to the poor, especially during the loss of their loved ones,” the bill said.

    “Indigent families” is defined under the bill as those whose monthly incomes are equivalent to the minimum wage set in the region where they reside while “extremely poor” refers to a family whose monthly income is less than the minimum wage set in the region where they reside.