With return of Balangiga bells, Duterte visit to US possible — Locsin

Published November 15, 2018, 4:53 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

SINGAPORE –— President Duterte’s promise to never visit the United States during his presidency may soon be broken following the upcoming return of the Balangiga bells, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. during a press conference during his attendance to the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore on November 15, 2018. (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. during a press conference during his attendance to the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore on November 15, 2018. (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a press briefing here, Locsin said that Duterte may soon be breaking his promise after the United States announced that all three of the bells will soon be returned to its home country.

“There’s one little resolution in Congress which has to be addressed. And apparently, when I got here, while I was here, that has been addressed and the bells are coming back,” Locsin said.

“Well, they’re coming back so he (President Duterte) will have to go there, to the United States. I would think. If that’s the condition he made,” he added

When asked if Duterte already knew about this development, Locsin recalled that the President said ‘yes’ to him.

“Yes. Yes. He laughed. He smiled. He said, ‘Yes,'” Locsin said.

“[He said ‘yes’] To me. I mean, ‘You know, Sir, now that we’re getting the bells,’ and in the context of my conversations with Haley… He smiled,” he added, referring to US ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley.

According to Locsin, Haley asked him when would Duterte visit the US. Locsin recalled that his response to Haley was Duterte will only visit the US once the Balangiga bells are returned.

“She said, ‘The Balangiga bells?’ I said, ‘Yes. The three bells that we rang when we were going to ambush the US cavalry. And we rang it and they killed us,'” Locsin said.

“So she took it down and later on throughout the year, she would call me to the side and say, ‘OK, I brought it up with [US Defense Secretary James] Mattis, and Mattis said as far as the Defense Department is concerned, we’re OK,'” Locsin added.

President Duterte first made an appeal to the US to return the Balangiga Bells during his two-hour State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year. He said the bells are “reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears who resisted the American colonizers and sacrificed their lives in the process.”

“Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage. Isauli naman ninyo. Masakit ‘yun sa amin (Please return it. It is painful for us),” Duterte had said.

Almost two months later, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim disclosed that there is an ongoing effort to facilitate the return of the artifacts.

On September 28, 1901, Filipino freedom fighters from Balangiga, Eastern Samar ambushed Company C of the 9th US Infantry Regiment who were having breakfast, killing an estimated 48 and wounding 22 of the 78 men of the unit, with only four escaping unhurt.

From the burned-out Catholic town church, the Americans looted three bells which they took back to the US as war trophy. The bells remain at an American Air Force base in Wyoming. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)

 

 

 

 
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