AN AMERICAN official on Tuesday acknowledged President Rodrigo Duterte’s demand that the United States return the Balangiga bells that were taken by American troops from a town in Samar in 1901.
In a statement a day after Duterte delivered his second State of the Nation Address, US Embassy spokeswoman Molly Koscina said they will continue to work with their Filipino partners to find a resolution.
“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 said.
“We will continue to work with our Filipino partners to find a resolution.”
Duterte on Monday again lashed out at the United States in front of 1,500 dignitaries, diplomats and guests including US ambassador to Manila Sung Kim.
“Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours,” Duterte said.
“They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage.”
Kim was in the session hall when Duterte demanded the return of the bells. As his face flashed on screen during Duterte’s tirade, the envoy took off his headphone for the interpretation and his face betrayed no emotion.
Duterte said US troops took the church bells of Balanggia town in Eastern Samar during the Philippine-American war.
According to history, the Church bell was a signal for Filipino troops to attack the Americans in town on Sept. 28, 1901. A total of 48 members of the 9th US Infantry Regiment were killed on that date.
There are three Balangiga bells. Two of it are displayed at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. while the third is with the US Army regiment in South Korea.