MANILA (AFP) – The bodies of 70 inmates from the Philippines’ largest prison were laid to rest yesterday in a mass burial, weeks after their decomposing remains were discovered in a Manila funeral home.
They were among 176 corpses found by police during an investigation into the death of an inmate, who was accused of being involved in the killing of a journalist in early October.
Most of the deaths were due to “natural causes”, said Bureau of Corrections’ Acting Director for Health and Welfare Services Cecilia Villanueva. Among them was a Japanese national.
Villanueva said 127 of the 140 bodies buried so far were badly decomposed and could not be autopsied again. The bodies began piling up in the funeral home in December 2021 after their families – most of them poor – did not claim them.
Villanueva blamed “constraints” for the failure of corrections staff to ensure the inmates were given timely burials.
Bodies are normally held at the accredited funeral home for three months to give relatives time to retrieve them.
Yesterday’s mass burial was the biggest ever by the Bureau of Corrections, Villanueva told reporters.
Minimum security inmates carried the 70 plywood coffins to their final resting place – cheap concrete tombs in a cemetery inside the prison complex.