Nat’l Museum exec dismayed over ‘hot reaction’ of Church over Balangiga bell transfer
MANILA, Philippines —National Museum (NM) director Jeremy Barns has expressed dismay over the “hot reaction” of Church authorities in Samar on the proposal to transfer one of the three Balangiga bells to the museum.
“The hot reaction of the Church authorities in Samar, whom we have been working with for years to rebuild the church in Guiuan since Typhoon Yolanda, is understandable – although much too strongly worded as to be provocative of unnecessary controversy and acrimony,” Barns said in a statement on Thursday.
“It was sad to read it, as it does not accurately reflect the good relationships that exist between the government cultural agencies and numerous dioceses and parishes which we have assisted, expending considerable government resources and public funds in the process,” he added.
The bishop and clergy of the Diocese of Borongan, Samar earlier expressed opposition on the proposal to transfer one of the bells to the National Museum, calling it as “disrespectful mangling of history.”
The statement was in response to the Senate Resolution (SR) No. 965 filed by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri urging the government to lend one of the Balangiga bells to the museum.
Barns also clarified that the National Museum was not involved in Zubiri’s resolution.
“We at the NM were not involved in any way with the resolution that was filed by Senator Zubiri, which we only learned about after the fact – nor in any other initiative, past or present, that might involve bringing any or all of the bells to the National Museum,” Barns said.
Nonetheless, the National Museum director described Zubiri’s intention as “admirable and objectively reasonable.”
Barns thanked Zubiri for his “support and confidence” for regarding the museum as a “public institution so highly as to propose that we host one Balangiga bell for the benefit of acess by the people at large in the national capital.”
The Balangiga bells have been returned to the Philippines last Dec. 11, about 117 years after they were taken by American soldiers as war trophies during the Philippine-American War. /muf
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