Balangiga Bells to arrive in Manila on December 11
MANILA, Philippines – The Balangiga bells will arrive in Manila on Tuesday, December 11, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed.
All 3 bells will be formally turned over to the Philippines by the United States in a historic ceremony to be attended by President Rodrigo Duterte, Lorenzana told reporters on Friday, December 7, during a chance interview.
"The aircraft that will be bringing the 3 bells will arrive before lunch in Villamor Airbase. They are going to unload the bells, they are going to remove it from the crate, put it on display," he said.
Lorenzana said he will be signing a document formally accepting the bells. Duterte is scheduled to attend the turnover ceremony but will not be giving a speech.
"Initially, they said the President will not speak, but he said he will be there," said the defense chief.
The turnover ceremony will be attended by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, who will be giving a speech. Lorenzana too will be giving a speech.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis' message will be read out by a representative.
The bells will arrive on Tuesday after over a century on foreign soil. It was taken by Americans in 1901 as spoils of war.
Two of the bells had been at the FE Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, while the other one had been at Camp Red Cloud, an American base in South Korea.
The bells were originally in the Balangiga Church in Eastern Samar.
They were said to have played a crucial role in the US military's so-called worst single defeat in the Philippines. They supposedly were used as a signal for Filipino revolutionaries when they attacked a US garrison in the town of Balangiga. The Filipinos killed 48 American soldiers out of the total 74.
The outraged Americans sought a bloody revenge. Soon after, they were ordered to kill everyone in the town aged 10 years and above, including work animals, burn house, and seize crops.
Duterte himself has quoted the supposed order to Americans to reduce the village into a "howling wilderness."
Duterte was not the first Philippine president to ask for the return of the bells. In 1994, then-president Fidel Ramos made the same request to his US counterpart, Bill Clinton, to no avail.
In 2014, more than 3,000 online petitioners also urged the US to return the Balangiga Bells. When then-US president Barack Obama visited the Philippines that year, however, the US leader said nothing about this so-called war booty. – Rappler.com
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