Balangiga Bells’ return shows US is PH’s ‘true friend’: Palace

By Azer Parrocha

December 11, 2018, 7:53 am

<p>One of the three Balangiga bells <em>(Photo courtesy of the US Embassy in Manila)</em></p>

One of the three Balangiga bells (Photo courtesy of the US Embassy in Manila)

MANILA -- Malacañang described the US government as a “true friend” of the Philippine government for “working tirelessly” for the return of the Balangiga Bells to its home in Eastern Samar.

“Stakeholders from both the Philippines and the United States worked tirelessly for the return of the Balangiga Bells,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

“They will be remembered as true friends of the Philippines and of Filipino heritage,” he added.

Panelo also described the return of the church bells as “historic and unprecedented.”

“This marks an important milestone in and gives new meaning to the shared history between the Philippines and the United States,” Panelo said.

Panelo, meanwhile, clarified that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will be present during the turnover of the Balangiga bells to town officials in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Dec. 15.

He earlier announced that Duterte will no longer attend the handover of the Balangiga Bells scheduled on Tuesday (Dec. 11) in Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Duterte’s decision to skip the bells’ handover on Tuesday came upon the recommendation of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

“The President, upon the recommendation of Secretary of National Defense Delfin N. Lorenzana, will no longer be attending the handover of the Balangiga bells scheduled tomorrow, December 11, in Villamor Air Base,” Panelo said in a statement.

“The President will instead be in Samar on December 15, Saturday, to turn over the bells to Balangiga officials,” he added.

Duterte has been pushing for the return of the three church bells taken by American troops from the Balangiga Church in Samar as war booty following the Balangiga Encounter in 1901.

Earlier, he said that there was nothing to talk about with the US unless the church bells are returned.

“Di na naisauli 'yung Balangiga bells, wala tayong pag-usapan (They haven’t returned the Balangiga bells, we have nothing to talk about),” Duterte said in his speech in Davao City last August.

Duterte said he understands why American troops took it as a “trophy” but still found it unacceptable how an entire village in Samar had to be killed.

“They say itong (these) bells was [sic] a trophy. I can understand it…pero kung 'yan kinuha mo (but when you seize them) and you killed everybody in the town in Samar,” Duterte said.

The villagers then killed 54 American soldiers using bolos while around 2,500 Filipinos were killed in the US retaliatory attack. (PNA)