Prelates: Transfer of Balangiga bells to Nat’l Museum is ‘disrespectful mangling of history’
The Bishop and clergy of the diocese of Borongon on Thursday objected to the transfer of one or all of the Balangiga bells to the National Museum saying such effort is a “disrespectful mangling of history.”
The diocese of Borongan was reacting to the Senate Resolution (SR) No. 965, which urged the government to transfer one of the bells to the National Museum for the appreciation and education of the general public.
The diocese insisted that the bells belong to its “historical and rightful habitat,” which is the Parish Church of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, in Balangiga town, Eastern Samar.
“We, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of Borongan collectively object to and strongly stand against the transfer of one or all of the bells of Balangiga from their historical and rightful habitat,” the diocese of Borongan said in a statement.
“Any effort aimed at such a transfer is a disrespectful mangling of history and the right of the Catholic faithful of Balangiga to their private property,” it added.
The diocese of Borongan said that the SR No. 965 “does violence to the history and the sacred character and purpose of the Balangiga bells,” therefore it must be rejected.
It added that the encounter, which the bells played a role, happened in Balangiga, therefore it is “only right that they be returned to Balangiga and stay in Balangiga.”
The Balangiga bells tolled on the morning of September 28, 1901 to signal the start of a sneak attack by dozens of town villagers against American soldiers.
The diocese of Borongan argued that the bells are sacred artifacts that call the faithful to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist therefore the bells belong in the Church and not in a museum.
The SR No. 965 was filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri last Dec. 6, days before the official return of the historic bells to the country.
In the resolution, the government was urged to “share with the Filipino people” the bells by lending one of them to the National Museum “to give chance to many Filipinos to see for themselves this religious artifact and be reminded of the role it played” in the Philippine-American War.
Placing the bell in the National Museum will give every Filipino in the country an opportunity to get a glimpse of the artifact and it will make the bell accessible to “countless students who make school-sanctioned visits to the National Museum every year.”
The Balangiga bells have returned to the Philippines last Dec. 11, about 117 years after they were taken buy American soldiers as war trophies. /jpv
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