Press Release
December 14, 2012


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, PDP Laban President, today filed a bill seeking to require all local health officers to have mandatory training in the identification of fatalities from natural and human-induced disasters.

In filing Senate Bill 3368 to amend the Local Government Code of 1991, Pimentel noted that in most calamities, many Filipinos not only mourn but also "bear the pain of uncertainty on the fate of their lost family members."

"We hear news reports of mass burials of unidentified persons simply because the government lacked capable professionals to identify dead bodies," said Pimentel in the explanatory note of his bill.

Under SB 3368, Pimentel tasked the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other appropriate government agencies to provide local health officers the mandatory training on the identification of deceased persons.

He stressed that while the Local Government Code mandates the appointment of a local health officer in all levels of local government, most of them are not technically capable of identifying dead bodies during and after calamities.

This skills lack is unacceptable said Pimentel more so since the Philippines is at the top spot of the list of countries with the most number of reported natural disasters and casualties, second only to Japan.

"Considering that local health officers have knowledge on the medical field, it is but apt that they also be empowered to answer and respond to this problem brought about by disasters," said Pimentel.

"Appropriate and timely management of dead bodies following disasters is a matter of collective well-being, a question of ethics and human dignity," he stressed.

In 2011, a total of 431 natural and human-induced disasters were reported in the Philippines, resulting in 1,774 deaths, affecting three million families and translating to P26 billion in economic losses.

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