By Genalyn Kabiling
The historic return of the Balangiga bells to the country after more than a century marks an “important milestone” in the relations between the Philippines and the United States, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo also lauded stakeholders from both countries as “true friends” of the Philippines for working towards the return of the church bells.
The bells, taken by US troops from a church in Balangiga, Eastern Samar during the Filipino-American war in 1901, will be turned over by the US government to the Philippines Tuesday at the Villamor Air base in Pasay City.
“The return of the Balangiga bells to their place of origin is historic and unprecedented,” Panelo said.
“This marks an important milestone in and gives new meaning to the shared history between the Philippines and the United States,” he added.
He recognized that stakeholders from both the Philippines and the United States have “worked tirelessly” to bring back the church bells to the country. “They will be remembered as true friends of the Philippines and of Filipino heritage,” he said.
President Duterte, meantime, is expected to attend the handover of the Balangiga bells to town officials in Balangiga, Easter Samar on December 15. Duterte earlier decided to skip the turnover ceremony of the bells at the Villamor Air Base on Tuesday.
“The President will be present during the handover of the Balangiga bells on 15 December 2018 in Eastern Samar,” Panelo said.
President Duterte has repeatedly called on the US government to return the bells taken by their troops more than a century ago. Duterte insisted that the church bells belong to the Filipino nation, saying they form a “sentimental part of the journey towards nation building.”