The United States Embassy in Manila announced that the US Department of Defense already decided the transfer of Balangiga Bells to the Philippines. “Secretary of Defense (James) Mattis has notified Congress that the Department intends to return the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines,” Trude Raizen, deputy press attache of the embassy, told the Philippine News Agency Saturday.
The US National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 gives the US defense chief the authority to decide on the bells’ transfer.
While no specific date was set yet on the war artifact’s return, Raizen said they were assured it will now be processed.
“We’ve received assurances that the Bells will be returned to the Catholic Church and treated with the respect and honor they deserve,” she said.
“We are aware that the Bells of Balangiga have deep significance for a number of people, both in the United States and in the Philippines,” she added.
The bells were reportedly taken from the Balangiga Church in Samar by American troops as a war booty from 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 have been at the former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at the FE Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
President Rodrigo Duterte made his first appeal on Washington to return the the war booty during his second State of the Nation Address last year. PNA