Malacañang has welcomed the Unites States’ decision to the return the Balangiga bells, “war booty” taken by American soldiers from Eastern Samar more than a hundred years ago.
In a statement on Wednesday, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said the US commitment to return the three church bells to the Philippines is a “welcome gesture.”
US Ambassador Sung Kim on Tuesday said the US is “deeply committed” to return the bells to Filipinos.
“The Philippines has been working for the rightful return of Balangiga bells to the country for many years,” Abella said.
“The statement of US Ambassador Sung Kim that ‘the return of the Balangiga bells is the right thing to do’ therefore is a welcome gesture,” he added.
The Palace official said the bells seized by the US must be returned because those are part of the Filipinos’ national heritage.
“The Balangiga bells form part of our national heritage and the return of these historical relics is important for
our national pride, as these bells are reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears,” Abella noted.
The US commitment came just over a month since President Rodrigo Duterte sought the bells’ return to the Philippines in his State of the Nation Address in July, where the US envoy was present.
In a news briefing on Tuesday, Kim said the US government is in talks with the Philippines for the return of the Balangiga bells.
“There is an ongoing effort, an ongoing discussion within the US government and the Philippine government to try and facilitate the return of these bells as quickly as possible,” Kim added.
“I believe it’s the right thing to do and I really do hope that we will be able to return the bells soon,” he said.
Kim, however, did not give a timeline as to when the bells could be returned or whether all three bells would be returned at once.