Balangiga Bells arriving December 11: Lorenzana
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday said two of the three Balangiga Bells seized by United States soldiers more than a century ago will arrive in the Philippines next week.
"On December 11, the Balangiga bells will arrive in Villamor Air Base aboard (United States Air Force) aircraft. We don't know if it's a C-130 or another aircraft but 9 a.m.," Lorenzana said in a TV interview.
Last November 14, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis led a ceremony at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming marking the return of the Balangiga bells to the Philippines after 117 years. The remaining bell is in a US base in South Korea.
"The Balangiga Bells have deep significance for many people in the United States and the Philippines. On August 9, Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis notified Congress that the Department of Defense intended to return the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines," the US Embassy in Manila said in a statement then.
"The decision followed a year-long consultative process with associated veterans’ organizations and government officials to ensure appropriate steps are taken to preserve the history associated with the bells," it added.
Early this year, the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 allowed the transfer of the bells to the Philippines after it was authorized by Mattis. The US move drew praises from the Philippine government and Filipino veterans.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his second State of the Nation Address last year, expressed his desire for the return of the Balangiga Bells, explaining they form part of the country's patrimony and were taken at the cost of bloodshed of thousands of Filipinos.
During the Philippine- American war on 1901, the US soldiers took the Balangiga Bells in Balangiga town in Eastern Samar. One of the three church bells is at the US base in South Korea, while the two others are in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
The bells were taken by the American soldiers in revenge over an attack by Filipinos where 36 were killed. The Americans counterattacked, killing 39 in Balangiga and seized the bells as war booties. Ella Dionisio