Cebu Rep. Vincent “Duke” Frasco filed Thursday a bill seeking to regulate the sale of caskets by funeral establishments to ensure availability of affordable decent caskets to grief-stricken and indigent families.
The chairperson of the House Committee on Visayas Development laments that currently, the price of most caskets has become “unconscionably high” which is beyond the paying capacity of the extremely poor Filipino households.
“In the Philippines, dying has become as costly as living itself. This is because more than a majority of Filipinos already live lives of utter poverty and still die poor and indebted till the end. In general, funeral services are expensive, a stark and difficult reality confronting the large majority of impoverished Filipinos,” he said in filing House Bill No. 7846 or the proposed “Dignified Casket (DC) Cares Act.”
“Notably, the cost of caskets are not the only expenses involved in death, as there is still the matter of embalming, transportation, cemetery and other funeral expenses. Not to mention, if the individual died of unnatural causes, hospitalization and medical bills may have been incurred. The expensive cost of dying presents an added burden to grief-stricken families, not to mention the indigents and extremely poor,” he added.
Frasco noted that depending on materials used, coffins may cost between P5,000 to P300,000.
“Affordable caskets may be bought in small and limited funeral parlors. However, the sad reality is that in most funeral parlors, there is no availability of affordable caskets. Hence, the surviving family members are often left with no other better option and, thus, constrained to purchase the available but expensive casket, which is beyond their financial capacity. As they bury their dead, they are left, not only with grief, but unnecessary debt as well,” he said.
Regulating the sale of caskets by funeral establishments to ensure availability of affordable caskets will greatly relieve grief-stricken families of the added financial burden, and preserve the human dignity of our fellow Filipinos, both in life and in death, he stressed.
HB 7846 provides that all funeral establishments shall at all times maintain available decent caskets with a price of not more than P12,000.
Under the bill, in the event that there is no such casket available when needed and the family of the deceased person is an indigent family or extremely poor family as certified by Barangay Chairman or any government social worker, the funeral establishment is mandated to offer a casket of any higher value, but the price to be paid by such indigent family or extremely poor family shall still be at an amount not more than P12,000.
Violators of the proposed Act shall be slapped with a fine not exceeding P200,000 and shall face a suspension of license to operate for a period not exceeding six months.
“Repetitive violations after the lifting of the suspension of its license to operate shall be penalized with a fine not exceeding P400,000 and a revocation of such license to operate,” the measure provides.
Under Frasco’s measure, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will serve as a key implementing arm of the proposed Act. It is mandated to issue the necessary rules and regulations of the proposed Act and to monitor the current market prices for caskets.