(L-R) Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez with United States Defense Secretary James Mattis. Courtesy: Philippine Embassy in Washington DC
During his speech at the Veterans Remembrance Ceremony at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, United States Defense Secretary James Mattis formally announced the turnover of the historic Balangiga Bells to the Philippines.
“The Secretary just simply said in not so many words, ‘Ambassador, these bells are now officially going to return to the Philippines,’ ” said Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez who was present at the event.
US Defense Secretary Mattis showed Romualdez the well-preserved state of the bells and the engravings on it.
The memorial marker states that the Balangiga bells are church bells taken as war trophies by the US Army from the town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar, Philippines. The ringing of the bells signaled the attack of the bolo tribesmen which led to the massacre of Company C of the 9th US Infantry Group.
After 117 years, the US government will finally return the historic bells to its original home in Samar.
President Rodrigo Duterte first made mention of the bells to Mattis last year during the Defense Ministers Meeting at Clark Air Base.
“They needed to change the 2017 National Defense Appropriation Act which will allow the return of the bells. That took some time. Shortly after, there was a 90-day period before Congress could actually change that. But that one went very quickly,” said Ambassador Romualdez.
Romualdez thanked the Legislative and Executive branches of the US government; several officials from the United Nations and a number of Filipinos and Americans who contributed in the effort to return the Balangiga bells to the Philippines. — JL Asayo | UNTV News & Rescue
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