Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman (File photo)

MANILA – A lawmaker is pushing for proper and accessible burial grounds for Muslim Filipinos to preserve the sanctity of Islamic belief and culture in honoring the deceased.

Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman filed on Wednesday House Bill No. 3755, which seeks to require all local government units to allocate a portion of land, depending on the size of their respective Filipino Muslim populations, for the establishment of public cemeteries for Muslims. A copy of the bill was sent to the media on Thursday.

Hataman said Islamic burial and funeral practices would entail the deceased to be buried within 24 hours from death, followed by a funeral procession and a period of mourning.

He said the lack of burial space for Muslim Filipinos compounds grieving, as many are forced to travel long distances to bury their dead.

“Nagdadalamhati ka na sa pagkawala ng kaanak mo, dagdag na pabigat pa sa nararamdaman ang suliraning dulot kung saan sila ihihimlay. Nais nating baguhin ito sa ating panukala para magkaroon ng himlayan ang mga Muslim sa mga lungsod o munisipalidad kung saan sila naninirahan (You are already grieving for the loss of your relative, and then the problem of where to bury the dead adds to the burden. We want to change this through this proposal to establish Muslim public cemeteries in cities and municipalities),” he said.

Total population of Muslim Filipinos reached around 12.7 million, according to data from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF), with hundreds of thousands in all of the regions except for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), which has a Muslim population of 39,503.

The bill shall require all cities and municipalities within BARMM to allocate a minimum of two hectares of suitable land as public cemeteries for Muslim Filipinos.

For Metro Manila, the bill requires at least 3,000 square meters of suitable lands to be used as Muslim cemeteries for each LGU, but may procure property outside of Metro Manila within a reasonable traveling distance for the purpose.

For all cities and municipalities outside Metro Manila, the following rules apply: 5,000 square meters if Muslim population is at least 1,000; 3,000 square meters if Muslim population is at least 500; and 2,000 square meters if Muslim population is at least 300.

In cases wherein any component city or municipality of a province does not meet the minimum population within the city or municipal territory for the establishment of a public Muslim Filipino cemetery, the province, being the next LGU and in anticipation of an increase in local Filipino Muslim population within its territory, shall be mandated to allocate:

A minimum of one hectare of suitable land for the establishment of a public Muslim cemetery where the total population of Filipino Muslims in the said province exceeds 2,000 individuals; 5,000 square meters when the total Filipino Muslim population in the province is below 2,000 but more than 1,001 individuals; 2,500 square meters when the total Filipino Muslim population in the province is 1,000 and below. (PNA)