75 skeletal remains to be exhumed in Kidapawan cemetery

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/3 Nov) – At least 75 remains would be exhumed starting today at a private cemetery here to make way for an improved memorial park.

Rambe Ramel, of the Cautivar Cemetery located along Bautista Street here, said that since 2007 they have already informed relatives of those buried in the graveyard about the exhumation.

“Yet only few responded to our call to have the remains of their relatives removed from the ground and transferred to another place,” said Ramel.

About 500 tombs are located at a portion of the cemetery that is owned by Ramel’s wife, Shirley Cautivar.

Cautivar owns 25 percent of the 1.3-hectare cemetery. The other portions are owned by three of her siblings.

Cautivar plans to construct a semi-memorial park inside her lot.

The couple explained the exhumation will not desecrate the dead.

“We will only dig the tombs that have no tombstones and those buried for more than 10 years,” they said, adding the remains will be buried in one common ground inside the cemetery.

But some of the relatives cried foul.

They said that the cemetery is the “resting place” of their loved ones and that it should not be “disturbed.”

Besides, they said, the exhumation should have permission from the health and sanitation office of the local government unit.

But Ramel said they will only bulldoze those graves that have already been abandoned by relatives for many years.

A state prosecutor here said exhumation of dead should undergo a process.

“Even a simple request for an autopsy of the dead should undergo a process. How much more if the plan is to exhume many, not only one, dead in a cemetery?” said City Prosecutor Al Calica.

The Cautivar Private Cemetery used to be a public graveyard in the 1950s.

When the parents of Shirley Cautivar had the area surveyed in the late ’70s, they found out that the cemetery was still part of their land.

The legal battle to reclaim the property started in early ’80s and it was only in 1997 that they finally repossessed it. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)