Palace: Return of Balangiga bells due to Duterte’s ‘political will’
MANILA, Philippines – The return of the Balangiga Bells, seized by the Americans as war trophies, was due to the “political will” of President Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the return of the bells, which arrived in Manila early Tuesday, marked “a watershed in our nation’s history.”
“Many have tried but it is our President’s strong political will and unquestionable dedication in asserting the rights of our country and its people which significantly contributed to this event coming into fruition,” Panelo said in a statement.
“We express our sincerest gratitude to all stakeholders from both the Philippines and the United States who worked tirelessly and selflessly for the return of the bells,” he added.
“This unprecedented gesture,” Panelo said, “is well appreciated and will surely forge a stronger and more enduring relationship between the two long-time allies and friends as we finally close a tragic chapter in the two countries’ shared history.”
“As we move forward in our history, we hope that the bells of Balangiga will become constant reminders of our people’s gallantry, heroism, and strong sense of national pride.”
“As we recall this dark page of our history, let the world know that our race will not allow itself to be subjugated by any foreign power and we Filipinos will always assert our sovereignty against those who will attempt to subvert it,” he added.
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.
Duterte will lead the turnover of the bells in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on December 15 after he skipped its handover rites at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City on Tuesday morning. /kga
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