(Photo courtesy of Official Gazette)

MANILA – There are still available funds for the planned memorial for victims of human rights violations during the martial law regime, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Thursday.

The DBM's clarification came on the same day when an official of the Human Rights Violations Victims Memorial Commission (HRVVMC) told lawmakers during the House budget deliberations on the Commission on Human Rights that there is the proposed 2023 national budget has no special provision for the construction of a memorial for martial law victims.

HRVVMC executive director Carmelo Crisanto said the project may become a “white elephant” because there are no funds allotted for it in 2023.

The DBM, however, said the special provision for the planned memorial was not included in the past expenditure programs.

The disbursement of funds for the museum construction was part of the “adjustments” made by Congress, the agency added.

“The special provisions that the Memorial Commission is referring to in the past budget years are all adjustments introduced by Congress. It was not part of the national expenditure program submitted by the Department of Budget and Management even in the past years,” it said.

The DBM also said the funding for the memorial project is “still available,” since it is categorized as “Trust Receipts.”

“Since the said amount is a trust, then it is available until fully utilized subject to budgeting, accounting and auditing rules and regulations,” the department said.

It also noted that only PHP127 million of the PHP381 million released for the establishment of the museum was “actually utilized.”

Hence, there is still a balance of PHP254 million, which remains in the HEVVMC’s LandBank account, as of Sept. 14 this year, the DBM said.

Republic Act (RA) 10368 creates the HRVVMC primarily for the establishment, restoration, preservation, and conservation of the memorial, museum, library, and/or compendium in honor of the victims of human rights violations during martial law.

Under the law, a memorial, museum, or library shall be established in honor and in memory of the victims of human rights violations whose names shall be inscribed on the Roll.

A compendium of the martial law victims’ sacrifices shall be prepared and may be readily viewed and accessed on the internet, according to the law.

RA 10368 provides that there shall have an appropriation of “at least PHP500 million from the accrued interest of the PHP10 billion fund” for the project. (PNA)