“It would be wrong and insensitive for the Duterte administration to claim sole credit for the return of the [Balangiga] bells and insist that this was the result of its so-called independent foreign policy,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement on the day of three Balangiga bells’ arrival 117 years after these were taken from the town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar and brought to the United States by American soldiers during the Philippine-American War in 1901.
“We owe the return of the bells to the collective and untiring effort of many people. This includes past presidents and foreign affairs officials, Catholic church leaders, historians, Filipino-Americans and different non-government organizations,” Hontiveros said.
She added that the people’s strong sense of history and justice that led to the return of the bells not President Rodrigo Duterte’s defeatist foreign policy which has only managed to surrender our sovereignty and territory in the West Philippine Sea.
President Duterte did not attend the arrival ceremony for the said bells today, however, he will be attending the hand over of bells in Eastern Samar on December 15.
“This marks an important milestone in and gives new meaning to the shared history between the Philippines and the United States,” he said.
“Stakeholders from both the Philippines and the United States worked tirelessly for the return of the Balangiga bells,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said. “They will be remembered as true friends of the Philippines and of Filipino heritage.”