Another joke? Duterte mulls return of Balangiga bells to keep US away
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte raised the possibility of returning the Balangiga bells — which were sent back home to the Philippines by the United States in 2018 — to minimize US interaction with the country.
Duterte made the remark during his final State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, while explaining that he is not keen on fighting it out with China as it would be costly for the country, both in resources and manpower.
The President then clarified that the country cannot rely on the US as the superpower would only come to the Philippines’ defense if it was attacked — referring to the Mutual Defense Treaty.
“Now comes America, and says that if the attack is against the Philippines, they will defend. But they issued a statement that America does not meddle in conflicts involving the boundaries of other nations, and if America has to go to war, they would have to go to Congress to get — American Congress — to get authority to go to war,” Duterte said during his speech.
“That is why many presidents […] no president has ever been punished for attacking nations, getting into a fight with nothing. And if they come here, ang problema kasi nandito na ‘yong Balangiga, isauli na lang natin ulit?” he asked.
“Maybe I’ll just return it […] ring it until you die,” he added.
Duterte’s pronouncement, however, may have to be taken with a grain of salt, considering his propensity to issue political statements during formal engagements.
In the earlier part of his speech, Duterte said that he was actually approached by some American officials who offered him to visit US. The President then said that he did not want to, as he was not happy with how US treats the Philippines, bringing up the issue of the Balangiga bells.
However, Duterte now admitted that he really had no intent to return the favor and visit US.
In December 2018, the US returned the bells to the Eastern Samar town which bore its name. The bells were taken by American forces when it raided the town during the Philippine-American war.
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