Balangiga bells turnover set tomorrow

December 09, 2018

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will lead the ceremony marking the handover of the Balangiga bells by the US to the Philippines tomorrow.

Malacañang said the handover will be held at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

On Saturday, two Balangiga bells installed at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming were taken down and packed for their historic return to the Philippines.

A third bell is at a US Army museum in South Korea.

The US has committed to return all three bells safely in the best possible condition and as quickly as possible, according to the US Embassy.

The Department of National Defense earlier said the Balangiga bells will be back on Philippine soil on December 11.

DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said the bells will be airlifted on a US Air Force plane to Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, where the first turnover ceremony will take place. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will personally receive the bells.

The bells will later be airlifted to Eastern Samar by a Philippine Air Force plane for their handover to church officials in Balangiga on December 15, in time for the first Simbang Gabi in the early hours of December 16.

On September 28, 1901, Filipino guerrillas stormed the 9th US Infantry Regiment in Balangiga, killing 48 American soldiers. The Americans retaliated by razing towns to the ground, sending males aged 10 years and above to prison and taking the Balangiga bells as war booty.

On November 15 this year, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis formally returned the church bells to the Philippines, seeking to close a contentious chapter in the two allies’ shared history.