Nobody can claim sole credit for return of Balangiga bells – Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday reiterated that nobody could claim “singular credit” for the return of the historic Balangiga bells.
“But nobody can claim a singular credit for the generous act of the Americans,” Duterte said in his speech during the turnover of the bells in Eastern Samar.
The President added that the bells were returned “because of the fervent prayers of the entire Filipino nation.”
Duterte also said the Americans and Filipinos must be credited for their efforts in returning the bells.
“The bells are returned credit goes to American people and to Filipino people. Period,” he said.
“We know fully well that several efforts to return the bells have been made by both America and the Philippines. It has been indeed a long and tedious process, to the point that the outcome was disappointing sometimes,” he added.
The historic bells were taken by American soldiers as booty during the Philippine-American War in 1901.
After 117 years, the three bells were turned over to the Philippines at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City last Dec. 11.
The President also said the success of returning the bells were like the victory of the ancestors in reclaiming country’s freedom from colonizers.
“The rest of the Filipino nation joins the Diocese of Borongan in celebrating this historic event. Indeed, this victory is the result of the optimism and solidarity and patriotism of those behind the bells’ return, just [like] when our forefathers fought for freedom against foreign domination more than a century ago,” he said.
The President then urged Filipinos to secure the historic bells and preserve its cultural and historical significance.
“I therefore, trust that our kababayans in Balangiga and the rest of our country would ensure the protection of these gems are continued to preserve and promote our culture and history,” he said.
Joining the President in the turnover of the bells were US Deputy Chief of Mission John Law, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Gabriele Caccia, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Eastern Samar Gov. Marcelo Picardal, Balangiga Mayor Randy Graza, and Archbishop Romulo Valles of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. /atm
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