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Philippines: Largest prison holds mass burial for 70 inmates after bodies were found rotting at funeral home

Manila, Philippines Edited By: Sneha SwaminathanUpdated: Dec 02, 2022, 07:42 PM IST
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Photograph:(AFP)

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Most of the deaths were due to "natural causes", said Cecilia Villanueva, the Bureau of Corrections' acting head for health and welfare services. A Japanese national was among them. As per Villanueva, 127 of the 140 bodies buried so far were severely decomposed and could not undergo further autopsy. After their families, the majority of whom were impoverished, failed to claim them, the bodies started to pile up in the funeral home in December 2021.

A mass burial was held on Friday to dispose the bodies of 70 inmates in the largest prison in the Philippines, weeks after their decomposing remains were found at a Manila funeral home. They were among the 176 corpses that were found by police as they looked into the death of an inmate who was suspected of having participated in the murder of a journalist in early October.

Most of the deaths were due to "natural causes", said Cecilia Villanueva, the Bureau of Corrections' acting head for health and welfare services. A Japanese national was among them. As per Villanueva, 127 of the 140 bodies that have been buried so far were severely decomposed and could not undergo further autopsy. After their families, the majority of whom were impoverished, failed to claim them, the bodies started to pile up in the funeral home in December 2021.

Villanueva linked the inability of the prison officials to ensure that the prisoners had prompt burials to "constraints." Typically, bodies are kept at the authorised funeral home for three months to allow for families to claim them. According to Villanueva, Friday's mass burial was the largest ever conducted by the Bureau of Corrections in Philippines.

The dysfunctional Bureau of Corrections, which handles the nation's overcrowded prison system, has been rocked by scandals for some time now. The shocking discovery of piled up, decomposing dead bodies at the funeral home was only the most recent.

(With inputs from agencies)

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