The Millenials' Complete Guide to exhuming the remains of a dead person

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The Millenials' Complete Guide to exhuming the remains of a dead person
Let’s admit it, 2016 is a year of both great and not-so-great memories.

On Friday, November 18, social media went ablaze in the wake of the surprise Marcos burial at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani -- which was so sneaky it caught almost everyone off guard, except maybe, the military parade men who seemed to have a week's practice, proof of which is their excellent marching performance during the burial ceremony.

The millenials, or those persons who reached young adulthood around the year 2000, were on the forefront to protest the clandestine burial. Along with these protests, a call to exhume Marcos’ remains quickly spread on social media.

So, how do you exactly exhume the remains of a deceased person?


What is required by law

The prospect and experience of an exhumation of the buried remains of a deceased person can often be a very difficult time for the family and friends of the deceased person. It is only in strict circumstances that exhumation can occur. At all times during the process, due regard for respect to the deceased person and privacy for the family and friends of the deceased person is protected.

Some examples of situations where an exhumation of interred remains might be required or take place include:

  • When a court orders an exhumation as part of a criminal investigation or any legal conflicts
  • For public health reasons (e.g. if a graveyard or cemetery is being moved)
  • For family reasons (if the family of the deceased person requests that the remains be moved to another burial ground, another part of the country, abroad, etc.).

Rules

The following information relates to exhumations for the purpose of reburial elsewhere.

The local authority (which has responsibility for the maintenance and regulation of burial grounds in the area) issues special permits that authorize exhumations but only where applications for the exhumation of interred remains comply with very strict guidelines (including permission granted by the family).

At all times, exhumations can only take place in the presence of a health officer from the local authority and the exhumation is supervised to ensure privacy and to protect public health.

The legislation governing exhumations in the Philippines is known as the "DISPOSAL OF DEAD PERSONS" CHAPTER XXI OF THE PHILIPPINE CODE OF SANITATION (P.D. 856), where it says:

Requirements for disinterment or exhumation of remains:

  • Disinterment or exhumation permit issued by the Local Health Officer when the cause of death is due to non-dangerous communicable disease, and the body had been buried three (3) years and five (5) years for dangerous communicable disease.
  • Approval of the Regional Health Director in cases of time shorter than the prescribed period.
  • Transfer Permit.
  • Death Certificate.
  • Re-burial permit to be secured at the place of re-interment.


Environmental health and exhumations

When a request for an exhumation is received by the local authority, the health officer visits and inspects the grave of the deceased person and obtains any further information required from the management of the cemetery and the undertakers involved. The health officer is present at the exhumation and supervises events to ensure that respect for the deceased person is maintained and that public health is protected. If the remains are to be reinterred in the same local authority area, the health officer also supervises the reinterment. If the remains are to be reinterred in another local authority area, the health officer will ensure that the receiving local authority receives all necessary details.

Exhumation cannot take place unless the health officer is present. This is to ensure that all procedures are complied with and everyone present shows respect to the deceased person at all times.

Any other remains in the same burial plot that may have been disturbed during the exhumation process are reinterred in accordance with public decency and respect.


Rates

Fees for exhumation permits vary from one local authority to another.


How to apply

Exhumation permits are issued by the local authority. An application for an exhumation permit should be made to the local authority and must be accompanied by the following:

  • The appropriate fee
  • The completed application form that is available from the local authority
  • A copy of the death certificate of the deceased person
  • A completed certificate from the director of public health at the Local Health Office.
  • A completed form of consent from the cemetery management.


Where to apply

Queries in relation to the issue of exhumation permits in an area should be addressed to the Health Officer of the local authority. Contact information for all local authorities in the Philippines is available online


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