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12月16日のまにら新聞から

Duterte rings bells of Balangiga as it finally comes home

[ 544 words|2018.12.16|英字 (English) ]

"The long wait is over."

This is what President Rodrigo Duterte said after he led the turnover ceremony of the three bells of Balangiga town in Eastern Samar on Saturday, 117 years after it was seized by American soldiers.

Thousands cheered Duterte after he rang the bell seven times and raised his hand in his signature fist.

Duterte did this after witnessing the exchange of documents between the local government of Balangiga and the United States government led by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Joseph Felter.

"We are fully aware the several efforts to return the bells has been made by both America and the Philippines (government). It has been indeed a long and rigorous process to the point that the outcome is disappointing sometimes," Duterte said in his speech

"But the long wait is over," he said.

Duterte reiterated that the credit in the return of the Balangiga bells should not be taken by anyone.

"The bells are returned and it was really because of the benevolent prayers of the entire Filipino nation," he said.

"Nobody but nobody can claim a singular credit for the generous act of the Americans. The generous return, credit goes to American people and to the Filipino people. Period," he added.

He also thanked stakeholders who ensured the return of the bells.

"The homecoming of these artifacts is truly a mark of a clear and meaningful history of the United States and the Philippines," Duterte said.

Duterte said this event also marks a new and more vibrant chapter between the bilateral relationship of the two countries.

He said the bells are part of the Philippines' "history" and "trait".

Duterte said he trust the people of Balangiga and the whole Filipino nation that they will "ensure the protection of these gems".

"And will continue to preserve and culture of our history," he added.

The ceremony lasted for 30 minutes after being delayed for an hour.

Duterte, before leaving the venue went around and had his picture taken with the residents.

A flock of birds flew around the stadium which caused people to cheer loudly. Residents said it's first time in their town to have many birds flying in groups.

"First time, since the bells were brought back yesterday (Friday)," a resident said.

For the part of US, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in his message written in Filipino and delivered by Felter, said he has a lot of connection with Filipinos after living in the Philippines.

"This is where I started to have a family, my first child was born in Sanctuario... in Makati," Felter said in Filipino.

"I have a deep connection with the Philippines- and because of our mutual respect and strong relationship of United States and the Philippines, we are here," he added.

In an interview with one of veteran US soldiers, John Gilbert said he has been living in the country for a long time and the people of Balangiga deserved to have their bells back.

Asked about Duterte's visit, Gilbert said he is glad as the president gave good comments for both countries.

"Yes, absolutely. President Duterte made a very good remark and I'm pleased to be here," he said.

Police said the overall event is "peaceful". Ella Dionisio/DMS