National historical body needs bigger budget to fight disinformation about martial law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) will need a bigger 2024 budget to fight the growing disinformation about martial law in both printed and online realms, an official said.

During the plenary debates on the proposed 2024 budget at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman asked the commission if it was aware of the "concerted campaign to distort and revise the truth and the reality of the martial law regime on its gross repression and inordinate plunder."

"Yes, Mr. Speaker, the agency is very much aware especially of the disinformation that's being peddled online, and that's why it's amping up its efforts to be able to produce all of these research materials which admittedly would need even more augmentation on the part of the Congress in terms of its budgetary allocation," Pangasinan Rep. Christopher de Venecia said.

De Venecia, the NHCP's budget sponsor and who speaks on behalf of the agency, said the budget augmentation would allow the agency to produce materials and mainstream these to the general public through different modalities such as physical and online copies.

The commission originally requested ₱452 million for next year but the Department of Budget and Management only approved ₱250 million under the proposed 2024 budget — lower than its ₱335 million funding for this year.

Under its proposed spending program for next year, the NHCP will allocate ₱57.010 million to its historical commemoration and promotion program, which is ₱45,000 less than the current year's budget.

Aside from this, De Venecia said the NHCP is addressing the issue of historical distortion with its National Memory Project, an online platform launched in August that stores digitized materials concerning Philippine history at both national and local levels.

"The atrocities and plunder of Marcos Sr.'s martial law regime and the sacrifices and heroism of its victims and survivors must never be allowed to be swept under the rug of distortion and historical revisionism," Lagman said.

"We cannot move forward together without looking back," the lawmaker added. "The ignominy of the past will forever hound the present if we attempt to consign to oblivion the inordinate transgressions and flagrant misrule of the martial law regime."

The late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, but was only declared to the nation via broadcast two days later.

The government compensated a total of 11,103 victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime, pursuant to Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

Also on Wednesday, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro asked the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regarding the commitment of education agencies to meet with its attached agency — the Human, Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission — regarding the inclusion of the teaching of martial law atrocities in the curriculum.

RELATED: Rights agency needs ₱271M for unfunded mandates in 2024 budget

Such an initiative is part of the nonmonetary reparation for martial law victims and survivors, according to RA 10368.

Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong, the sponsor of the commission's budget proposal, said the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education have yet to respond to the letters of the commission.

The DepEd confirmed on Sept. 11 an agency directive to change the term "diktadurang Marcos" to plain "diktadura" in the lesson plan for the Araling Panlipunan subject in grade 6.

READ: DepEd: No pressure from admin to disassociate Marcos from martial law

Limkaichong said the CHR is set to conduct an in-depth review of the MATATAG curriculum in relation to the teachings of Marcos' nine-year martial law.