Leyte historian: Return of Balingiga Bells ‘a veteran-to-veteran effort’
TACLOBAN CITY – An insult to the veterans.
This was how a local historian described the claims of President Rodrigo Duterte that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States was instrumental in the return of the historic Balangiga Bells.
Professor Rolando Borrinaga, who played an active role in the return of the Balangiga Bells, said that if indeed CIA was involved, the bells would have been returned sooner.
“The recent campaign was essentially a veteran-to-veteran effort. If the CIA had their way, the bells would have been returned many years ago. The statement would be unfair to the thousands of US veterans who wrote to their senators, congressmen, and people of consequence so that the Bells of Balangiga would be returned,” said Borrinaga, who is also the secretary of the National Committee on Historical Research of the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA).
He added he was aware of the “paper trail” involved in the decision-making that resulted in the eventual return of the bells, referring to various communications made by Filipino and US veterans, as well the parish priest of Saint Lawrence The Martyr, Fr. Serafin Tybaco.
Borrinaga said Duterte may just be joking when he made that statement.
The President, in his speech during the first anniversary of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday, gave credit to CIA for the return of the Balangiga Bells. He also said in jest that he had a relative who was part of the uprising of locals more than a century ago.
The bells were returned to the town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar on December 15, 2018 – after 117 years of being kept by the American government. Duterte witnessed the turnover.
The bells were put on display at the Balangiga Church grounds a day after Christmas, and have since been attracting tourists. /kga
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