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Return of Balangiga bells won’t be easy – Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte at the commemoration of 116th Balangiga Encounter held in Balangiga town on September 28, 2017. (Photo by Penelope Añosa Bulan Pomida)

BORONGAN CITY, September 29, 2017–President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that the return of the Balangiga bells will take time because it will need a legislation by the U.S. Congress.

“The bells will only be returned with the permission of the US Congress, so we give them enough time. I hope that the US Congress will give President Trump the authority to return the bells. Just return it and we will be happy,” Duterte said.

The President said that “the US government is looking for ways to get out of this problem because it remains not only to be a source of irritation, but also a source of painful reaction to what happened to our countrymen”.

Duterte was the guest of honor during the 116th Balangiga Encounter commemoration held in Balangiga town on September 28.

The bells took to prominence recently after it was mentioned by the president during his state of the nation address.

But President Duterte seemed to have toned down from his usual tirades against the Americans.

“I’d rather be friendly to them, because overall, the Americans redeemed themselves. They have helped us,” he said.

“Even today, they have provided the crucial equipment for soldiers in Marawi, engaged in war against terrorists”.

The President admitted that he was advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs to “temper my language”.

The President also promised to confer the Order of Lapu-lapu to the descendants of the Balangiga heroes. “They deserve the medal”, he said.

In September 28, 1901, local patriots led by Valeriano Abanador launched an attack against Company C of the Ninth Infantry Regiment of the US Army stationed in Balangiga that almost wiped out the entire company.

It was described as the “worst single defeat” of the American military in the Philippines. It became known in history as the Balangiga massacre.

The Americans retaliated with a kill and burn policy with General Jacob Smith ordering the killing of anybody capable of bearing arms and turning Balangiga into a “howling wilderness.

They then took the bells as war trophies.

Two of the bells are displayed at the FE Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, U.S.A., and another one is on display at the travelling museum of the 9th US regiment now stationed in South Korea. (Eden Cidro / Este News)

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