MANILA — A planned memorial for victims of human rights abuses during the martial law regime risks becoming a white elephant due to lack of funds, an official said Thursday.
During the Human Rights Committee budget briefing before the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, the Human Rights Violations Victims Memorial Commission (HRVVMC) called on lawmakers to help fund the project, which will be built in a lot inside the University of the Philippines covered by a 50-year usufruct agreement.
HRVVMC executive director Chuck Crisanto said the agency only has a budget of 31 million pesos under the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP).
But the lack of a special provision on the use of their trust fund poses a huge problem.
“We have a statutory trust fund. And it is the trust fund that I would like the honorable chairman to look at. There was a special provision made in each GAA and for the NEP for 2023, there was no “There is no special provision regarding our trust fund,” Crisanto said.
Crisanto said they still have funds for building the museum.
“We have at the moment 287 million pesos in our fund (inaudible) that we can still release before the end of the year, we can actually carry out the construction of the museum from October,” Crisanto explained.
The brief submitted to the House showed that the current trust fund still had more than P605 million at the end of July.
“If there is no special provision, this could turn out to be a white elephant as no funds will be allocated for 2023,” Crisanto said.
The museum has already collected 300 artifacts, the latest of which is the AVSECOM van where Ninoy Aquino’s body was placed after his assassination.
According to the committee’s budget briefing submitted to the House, the committee initially requested a budget of 126.314 million pesos for 2023, but the DBM only approved over 31.80 million pesos. The amount is still below its 2022 budget of 37.38 million pesos.
Republic Act 10368 established the Commission primarily for the establishment, restoration, preservation, and conservation of the memorial, museum, library, and/or compendium in honor of human rights violations under the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., father of incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos.
One of its tasks is the acquisition of artifacts related to the era of martial law from 1972 to 1986.