Duterte to skip historic handover of Balangiga bells in Pasay
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will skip the historic handover of the Balangiga Bells in Pasay City on Tuesday, Malacañang said.
The Bells of Balangiga would be returned to the Philippines 117 years after it was taken by the Americans as war booty.
Undersecretary for Media Accreditation and Relations Office Feducia Mia Reyes-Lucas said Monday the handover will push through at the Villamor Airbase without the President.
“Handover of the Balangiga bells will push through however, PRRD (President Rodrigo Duterte) will not attend. Thank you,” Reyes said.
The Palace official did not say why Mr. Duterte would skip the event.
The President’s schedule released on Sunday showed Duterte would attend the event. But in an updated schedule issued by the Palace on Monday, Duterte would no longer attend the historic activity.
Presidential Spokesperson Salavador Panelo said Duterte would skip the event 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.
“The President will instead be in Samar on December 15, Saturday, to turn over the bells to Balangiga officials,” he added.
But when Lorenzana was asked why Duterte decided to skip the Balangiga bells handover event in Pasay, the defense chief said it was the decision of the President.
“Hindi ko alam. Ako’y sumusunod lang sa utos ng Malacañang,” Lorenzana told reporters in San Miguel, Bulacan.
The US Army took the Balangiga Bells during the Philippine-American War in 1901, where thousands of FIlipinos were killed.
Duterte first made the call for the United States to bring the bells back to Balangiga Church in Eastern Samar during his second State of the Nation Address (Sona) in 2017. /kga
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