Duterte to US: Return Balangiga bells to PH
In describing his vow to pave the way for an independent foreign policy, President Rodrigo Duterte in his second State of the Nation Address (Sona) called on the United States to bring back the bells of the Balangiga church, which pealed when American soldiers murdered an entire Filipino village in Samar during the American occupation in the 1900s.
In his speech, Duterte vowed to continue following an independent foreign policy even as he cozies up to China to cool the ties with Beijing strained by a maritime dispute over the West Philippine Sea.
“We have cultivated warmer relations with China, bilateral dialogues and other mechanisms leading to easing of tension between the two countries and improve the negotiating environment on the West Philippine Seas,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he as this year’s chair of the Asean summit would continue to “uphold and promote our national interests… strengthen and seek partnership with those who share our values.”
“We will engage the nations with full respect of the rule of law, sovereign, equality, and again, non-interference,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he will go back in time to the 1901 massacre in Balangiga, Samar, where American soldiers retaliated after Filipino men dressed as women sneaked in an American camp and killed US soldiers during the Philippine-American war.
US retaliated by ordering killed Filipino male over ten years old.
Duterte said the Balangiga massacre “reduced Samar island into an island of howling wilderness.”
Duterte called for the US to return the bells of Balangiga church, which were taken by US troops as spoils of war.
“That’s why I say today – give us back those Balangiga bells. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage. Isauli naman ninyo, masakit iyon sa amin (Return it to us, that is painful for us),” Duterte said. IDL
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