BAGUIO CITY – A local legislator filed a proposed ordinance that seeks to establish the indigenous peoples’ burial ground in the city.
Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. stated it is already a declared policy of the State to recognize, respect and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their culture, traditions and institutions all within the framework of national unity and development.
He claimed indigenous peoples in the Cordillera will be allowed to bury their dead in their ancestral homes within the jurisdiction of the local government.
Under the proposed ordinance, no remains shall be buried without a death certificate; graves where remains will be buried shall be at least 1.5 meters deep and filled well and firmly; no remains shall be buried in a grave where water tables is less than 2 meters deep from the natural ground surface; no remains shall be buried within 50-meter distance from a water source; niches shall be totally enclosed with concrete or other impervious materials strictly water tight; no embalmed dead body shall remain unburied longer than 48 hours after death; when the cause of death is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), cholera, Ebola, hemorrhagic fever, hepatitis, plague, yellow fever among other dreaded communicable diseases declared by the health department; bodies or remains of persons who died of any dangerous communicable disease shall be exhumed after the lapse of a 5-year period; bodies or remains of persons who died of causes other than dangerous communicable diseases may be exhumed after the lapse of a 3-year burial period; burial sites should only be within the premises of the ancestral homes of the said tribes and should not be allowed in densely populated areas; if the ancestral home or burial place is near or adjacent to a tourist spot in the city, only burial 1.5 meters deep should be allowed to avoid creation of eye sore and all burial sites not within cemeteries should be inspected and approved by sanitation inspectors of the City Health Services Office before interment.
The proposed legislation stated that the City Health Services Office shall, upon a verified complaint of interested parties, deny due course to any application for exemption in violation of the measure.
Further, the City Health Services Office in coordination with the Local Civil Registry Office and other relevant offices and agencies shall promulgate the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the ordinance.
The Constitution stipulates the State shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to their ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social and cultural well-being.
Resolution 087, series of 2005 recognizes the burial grounds of the Ibaloi, Kankanaey and the Kalanguya in the city and the same was approved to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to bury their dead love ones within their ancestral homes located in the different parts of the city.
The first inhabitants of Baguio City belong to the Ibaloi, Kankanaey and Kalanguya tribes.
By Dexter A. See