By Basti Vertudez

“This move seems to be a political statement from the Marcos Jr. administration that they do not care about history, and that they are hell-bent on doing whatever it takes to conceal the truth from the Filipinos.”

Photo Courtesy by Politiko / NCCA

This was the take of Gabriela Party-list Representative Arlene Brosas as key government agencies for preserving Philippine history and culture face possible massive budget cuts under the proposed 2023 national budget.

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo on August 26, Brosas questioned the plan of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration to protect history after reducing the sector’s budget for the next year.

"So iniisip nga namin na 'ano ba ito, ano ang direksyon ng Marcos administration sa pag-preserve ng ating history?' Parang balewala sa administration 'yung mga ahensya na talagang nangangalaga sa ating kultura at sa arts,” the party-list lawmaker stressed, slamming the president.

In the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP), among the agencies that will be suffering from budget trim are the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), National Archives of the Philippines (NAP), and the National Library of the Philippines (NLP).

Should the bill be ratified, NCCA will experience the highest rate of decrease with an 83.90% cut, leading to its budget downfall from P156 million in the current year to only P25 million in 2023.

The second highest agency to face the same situation is the NHCP, which will come up against a 27.26% reduction, resulting in its fund being cut down to P212.77 million from its P292.5 million budget in 2022.

Alongside this, NAP’s budget will be reduced from P221.1 million to P165.2 million next year, while NLP’s allocation will fall to P161.1 million from its P208.2 million in the 2022 budget.

With the said issue, Brosas assured that the Gabriela party-list will do its best to resist the admin’s attempt to shrink the funds for the history and culture-related agencies.

“Kami sa Makabayan bloc, magkakampanya tao sa ating mga colleagues sa Kongreso at saka sa Senado para hangga’t maaari, ma-restore ‘yung ni-cut na budget,” the solon said in the same interview.

Historical distortion to continue?

With the administration’s plan to defund government agencies tasked to safeguard national history, Brosas held firm to fight against the historical distortion that had become controversial during Marcos Jr.’s campaign in the 2022 polls.

“We will continue to fight for the truth and rights of the Filipino people and reject all moves to completely erase the atrocities under the Marcos regime,” she pursued.

Furthermore, Brosas also pointed out that defunding the said agencies will just worsen the fostering of disinformation in the country, particularly on different social media platforms.

During the last campaign period, the issue of historical distortion sparked anew due to Marcos Jr.’s campaign that eventually led him to win the high-stakes 2022 presidential elections.
Citing that he can just ‘apologize’ for his wrongdoings, the sitting president was known to be unapologetic for the atrocities done during his father's dictatorship, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Knowing that Marcos Jr. has not yet acknowledged his father’s recorded human rights violations and corruption, critics have seen his triumph as an opportunity for the chief executive to continue ‘whitewashing’ the history that started since his presidential campaign.

Edited by Juliana Christine Mondoyo