President Rodrigo Duterte has again made a surprising turnaround, declaring on Thursday that he wants to be friends with Americans.
In a speech during the commemoration of the 116th year of Balangiga Encounter Day in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, the President acknowledged that the US had been of great help to the Philippines. He noted that incidents during the war are “all water under the bridge” including the razing of Balangiga town and the carting away by US soldiers of two bells which the country had asked the United States to return.
On September 28, 1901, Filipino guerillas stormed the 9th US Infantry Regiment, killing 48 American soldiers. The Americans retaliated by razing Eastern Samar towns sending males aged 10 years and above to prison and taking the Balangiga bells.
“We learned history, the country has been occupied by the imperialists…it was quite the practice of the west.
Without necessarily attributing it to the US, most of the western powers took advantage of the land and the natural resources of other countries. It was bad that this had to happen, aside from many other massacres, especially in Mindanao and [against]the Moros. These are all water under the bridge,” Duterte said.
“I was under advice that the negotiations are going on; that the government of [the United States of]America is looking for ways how to get out of this problem of the Balangiga bells because these remain to be not only the source of irritation but [rather]a painful reaction,” he added.
The President said the Americans fought alongside Filipino soldiers to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese in 1945. To this day, he said American soldiers remain a dependable ally of Filipinos, citing their help in the government operations against the Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
“I’d rather be friendly to them now because aside from these episodes of incidents…overall, I think the Americans redeemed themselves. They have helped us a lot,” Duterte said.
“I would not say they were our saviors, but they are our allies and they helped us. Even today, they provide crucial equipment to our soldiers in Marawi to fight the terrorists,” he added.
Manila has three standing military agreements with Washington: the 1951 Mutual Defense Agreement (MDT), the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) inked in February 2016.
The President cursed former US President Barack Obama ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in Peru, calling him a son of a bitch for raising the human rights issue in connection with the drug-related killings under the Duterte administration’s anti-drug war.
In a surprising move on Thursday, the President vowed that he will not curse at Americans anymore.
“I was under advice by the Department of Foreign Affairs that I would just temper my language and avoid cursing which I am prone to do if I get emotional,” he said.