MANILA, July 26 — The return of the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines will not only heal the wounds of the Filipino-American War but also bring closer cooperation between governments of the Philippine and the US, a senator said Wednesday.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III made this statement expressing support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s call during his second State of the Nation Address for the US to return the Bells of Balangiga, a centuries’ old artifact taken by US soldiers from Samar over a century ago.
“…We ask for the return of the Bells of Balangiga. For the return of the bells will help restore things to the status quo ante and help ease the hidden tensions that haunt the heirs of the Balangiga rebels and the American soldiers,” Pimentel said in a statement.
He further said that the return of the bells would help mute the anguish, ease the anger and dull the pain in the hearts of the heirs of the protagonists on both sides of the war.
It was during the “Balangiga Massacre” where US soldiers killed hundreds of civilians in a counterattack.
“The Bells of Balangiga are important to us because they are a part of our history,” he added noting that they were requesting for the return of the bells not for commercial but cultural and ecclesiastical value.
Pimentel explained that the war trophies from Balangiga included two church bells with the Franciscan Order emblems dated 1863 and 1889, respectively, and an English-made cannon dated 1557, now on display at the Trophy Park of the F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Meanwhile, the fourth artifact, a small church bell with the Franciscan Order emblem dated 1896, is with the 9th US Infantry Regiment in Camp Red Club in South Korea.
On September 28, 2011, Pimentel filed Senate Resolution No. 610, reiterating the call for the return by the United States of America of the Bells of Balangiga and other artifacts and war booties.
Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., the younger Pimentel’s father, authored the first resolution passed by the Senate in 2002.