Now that Balangiga bells are already here in the Philippines after 117 years, a lot of people believe that it is time for healing and move forward. No more scratching of old wounds.
The handover ceremony witnessed by some government officials and military troops at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.
Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said in his speech, the returning of the historic bells was the “right thing to do.”
“Lets us reflect on the U.S.-Philippine relationship, where we have been, where we are, where we are going. Having now served over two years as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, I am convinced that our relationship remains ironclad, consecrated by the service and sacrifice of the Americans and Filipinos who fought side by side for freedom,” Ambassador Kim said.
“This unprecedented gesture is well appreciated and will surely forge a stronger and more enduring relationship between the 2 long-time allies and friends as we finally close a tragic chapter in the two countries’ shared history,” he added.
While Panelo was trying to equate the return of Balangiga Bells to the country from President Rodrigo Duterte’s “strong political will” and credit him for this historical event. Retired Consul General and Philippine Military Academy Prof. Sonny Busa had already made it clear that the Philippines was able to get the approval of the US government to return the bells after Filipino negotiators earned the support of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the US. VFW is the “largest and oldest war veterans service organization” in the United States.
“For years they have opposed the return of the bells. Only last year, they passed a resolution approving it. We should look at it as cooperation and recognition of the relations of US and Philippines. And it is supposed to be a symbol of peace and understanding. It will show that the Philippines is a staunch ally of the US,” Busa said.
Thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump signed the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, enabling the U.S. Defense Department to facilitate the bells’ return.
“No one should take credit for the return of Balangiga bells. Not even President Duterte or his camp. Because the return of these artifacts is product of decades worth of work and protest from the veterans. Needless to say, even during the time of President Fidel Ramos, big attempts were taken to bring it back. From then on, every Philippine president then has tried to get it but it just fell on deaf ears because of the barriers to understanding,” the retired Consul General said.
Many observers asked why the President Duterte skipped in welcoming and witnessing the historical handover of the Balangiga bells which was contrary to the original plan that was announced by Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana that he would join, THEPHILBIZNEWS tried to get the reaction from Malacañang officials but failed to get any reason why the President was not present. However, our source from Malacañang said that the President will be in Samar instead on December 15, Saturday and witness the to turn over of the bells to Balangiga officials.
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