Sunday, July 30, 2017

US wants to return three Balangiga bells

From the Daily Tribune (Jul 29): US wants to return three Balangiga bells

The United States Ambassador to the Philippines on Thursday said the US government is willing to return all three Balangiga bells to the Philippines as it tries to reach an early resolution.

“What I can tell you is that we would like to reach a resolution on all three bells,” said Ambassador Sung Kim during the turnover ceremony of two new Cessna 208B aircraft to the Philippine Air Force.

“We know that it is a matter of great importance to the Filipino people, and if all possible we would like to return all three bells to the Philippines as soon as possible,” he said.

The envoy, who was present during President Rodrigo Duterte’s Second State of the Nation Address (Sona) where the issue of the bells’ possession was raised, acknowledged the Filipino leader’s “deep” sentiments about the issue.

While this was being said, Kim said “efforts have already started,” and that the US will continue to cooperate with the Philippine authorities and the people involved in the Balangiga Bells.

Kim said just as these bells have significant meaning to Filipinos, their veterans also put significant meaning to the bells.

“We just want to work with the local officials involved in Wyoming, with our military and other stakeholders to reach a solution that’s satisfactory to all parties, but there is no question that we want a reach a resolution,” he said.

The bells were taken from the Balangiga church by the American troops as a war booty from the “Balangiga Massacre,” a prominent title similarly used by both countries to depict two different points of history.

One of the bells have been in the hands of the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Cloud, South Korea while the remaining bells are in a former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenee, Wyoming, USA.

During a press conference, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said this issue is being taken as a priority.

“Anything that the President says is a priority. (On Tuesday), I already asked for a study. Some congressmen are volunteering where it is. And I’m sure that many people in the US government will work with us toward recovering these, and (the help) will be a good gesture and symbol,” he said.

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