The return of the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines will demonstrate the United States’ sincerity in forging a lasting relationship with the Filipino people, Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday.
“The return of the Balangiga Bells will be a strong indicator of the sincerity of the Americans in forging a lasting relationship with the Filipino people and truly symbolic of what their government has referred to in the past as an ironclad alliance between our two countries,” he added.
The bells were taken from the Balangiga Church in Samar by American troops as war booty following the “Balangiga Massacre” in 1901. One of the three bells has been displayed at the 9th Infantry Regiment in Camp Cloud in South Korea, while the other two are displayed at the former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at the FE Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“We thank US Defense Secretary James Mattis for his effort in seeking the return of the bells to our country. We do hope that the US government will follow through with their commitment and that it will become a reality soon,” Lorenzana said.
He said while understanding the resistance of some quarters in the US against the return of the Balangiga Bells, all must remember that both sides lost many lives during the Filipino-American War.
“It was a dark chapter in the shared history of our peoples, which should never be allowed to happen again. Let us not forget, however, that the time came when we set aside our differences and fought side-by-side against a common enemy in World War II. Currently, we are again working together to fight terrorism,” the defense chief said.
He added that in this ever changing world, it is time to heal the wounds of the past, move on, and look to the future.
“We call on the American people not to allow the bells to serve as trophies for atrocities that were committed by both sides on Philippine soil a very long time ago,” Lorenzana said. PNA