Old, poorly-built tombs at the public cemetery in Barangay Timawa-Tanza 1 in Iloilo City collapsed after days of heavy rains. The collapse exposed 27 sets of human skeletons. Some tombs hosted more than one dead person. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – Eighteen tombs at the public cemetery in Barangay Timawa-Tanza 1, City Proper collapsed. Incessant rains these past few days were the culprits, according to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

Another factor was the poor quality of the tombs, said Engr. Noel Hechanova, CENRO chief.

“Unregulated ang pag-construct, therefore their quality is questionable,” said Hechanova.

This was not the first time tombs at the cemetery collapsed. A similar incident happened some five years ago, according to the CENRO head.

The age of the tombs may have also factored in what happened, said Hechanova.

The tombs that collapsed were those that were stacked one over the other in layers.

Tanza cemetery has over 10,000 tombs, according to Hechanova.

The collapse exposed 27 sets of human skeletons. Some tombs hosted more than one dead person.

CENRO planned to temporarily move the exposed human skeletons to a vacant space at the cemetery. Hechanova urged the families concerned to coordinate with his office.

The CENRO chief said the Tanza cemetery was actually up for rehabilitation. Phase 1 had a budget of P1 million, he disclosed.

The CENRO is overseeing three city government-run public cemeteries – the one in Barangay Timawa-Tanza 1, City Proper; in Barangay Quintin Salas, Jaro district; and in Barangay Jereos, La Paz district.

Last year after the inconvenience he experienced during a visit to the tomb of his father at the Tanza public cemetery, Mayor Jose Espinosa III said he was considering putting up a columbarium – but in a new location and not inside the city’s congested public cemeteries.

A columbarium is considered a practical solution to the congestion.

The city government had long planned to decongest public cemeteries by introducing small bone boxes but nothing concrete had been done.

In 2011, Councilor Ely Estante suggested that cremation services for the dead be made available to ease the overcrowding in cemeteries, then the ashes of the dead would be placed in space-saving columbaria.

In 2013, the Sangguniang Panlungsod passed Regulation Ordinance 2013-238 “creating a city crematorium, columbarium and multipurpose halls inside city cemeteries.”

However, nothing concrete came out of it./PN

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