MANILA - The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill mandating an autopsy on human remains from deaths deemed "mysterious" and within "suspicious circumstances."
House Committee on Dangerous Drugs chair Robert Ace Barbers said House Bill No. 9072 or the "Mandatory Autopsy Law" will prevent the premature disposition of bodies pending an investigation to determine the real cause of death.
Under the bill, cremation of human remains subject to investigation will be prohibited without prior clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or the Philippine National Police (PNP).
It will, likewise, block the disposition of human remains by individuals, crematoriums or funeral parlors without prior issuance of a death certificate by a medical authority and the expressed concurrence of the family of the deceased.
A mandatory full autopsy will also be allowed even without a court order under the following cases:
- Deaths resulting from commission of crimes
- Sudden deaths not caused by readily recognizable diseases or cannot be properly certified by a physician
- Deaths occurring under suspicious circumstances, including those where alcohol, drugs or other toxic substances are involved
- Deaths occurring as a result of violence or trauma
- Death in which trauma, chemical injury, drug overdose, reaction to drugs or medication or medical treatment was the cause of death
- Operative and preoperative deaths
- Any death wherein the body is unidentified or unclaimed
- Deaths known or suspected as due to infectious or contagious disease
- Deaths occurring while under law enforcement custody, prison, penal institution, orphanage, senior home, or similar public facility
Barbers cited Section 95 of the Sanitation Code of the Philippines, which says that a special law may be created to perform autopsies "on certain cases."
Once passed into law, the PNP will have to draft its implementing rules and regulations in coordination with the NBI, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Health (DOH).