Binay wants PH 'Balangiga' church bells back

Thea Alberto-Masakayan
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Vice President Jejomar Binay pushes for the retrieval of historic church bells taken by American soldiers during the Philippine-American war.

Binay said the Balangiga bells, three church bells taken from Balangiga, Eastern Samar church as soldiers' war trophy, must soon be returned to the Philippines.

However, based on the U.S.' National Defense Authorization Act, “the return of veterans’ memorial objects to foreign nations without specific authorization in law,” is prohibited.

Apart from the law, Wyoming Governor David Freudenthal, a U.S. lawmaker, is also opposing the return of Balangiga bells to PH.

“Since both parties, it would seem, have reached a consensus to return the Bells to our country but for the opposition of former Wyoming Governor David Freudenthal, I am optimistic that the United States Congress shall soon decide the matter in our favor,” Binay said in a statement.

Unless an amendment shall be made, only then the bells will find its way back to PH.

“Since the Filipino populace, the Wyoming Veterans Council, and the Catholic Church are considered as the major stakeholders in this issue, it would be safe to assume that the people’s voice calls for the return of the Bells to the Philippines,” Binay said.

Binay has written to U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas last October 5, hoping for the immediate return of the historic bells.

“Through the years there have been dialogues between independent bodies; and the governments of the two nations, in hopes of arriving at an equitable solution to the issue,” Binay said in his letter.

PH has been trying to get the Balangiga bells since 1957, thru Jesuit historian priest Horacio de la Costa who requested the 13th Air Force in San Francisco, California to repatriate the bells.

In 1989, the Balangiga Historical Society through the National Historical Institute and the Department of Foreign Affairs have also pushed formal government efforts in reacquiring the Bells.