Defense Secretary Jim Mattis greets Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez at Bells of Balangiga during a visit to Wednesday…
SINGAPORE – The bells tore on September 28, 1901 to signal an early morning attack on American troops just as they ate breakfast. The attack almost hit American soldiers, killing 48 of them in a rare victory in a war that the Philippines would end up losing.
The American Commander’s response was quick. He ordered the killing of all Philippine men over 10 years who were involved in fighting American forces. The Americans ravaged the city of Balangiga, who had been abandoned and took home the three bell-blocks as a war-break.
More than a century after one of the most cruel clashes of the Philippine-American war, “Balangiga Bells” officially returned to the Philippines.
Speaking at an air force base near Cheyenne, Wyo., Where two of the three bells are located, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the return of the bells will “smooth the bonds that were tested but never broken in war.”
” Carry these bells home back to their Catholic Church, convinced that the US striker alliance with the Philippines is stronger than ever, “Mattis told José Manuel Romualdez, the Philippine Ambassador to the United States, who attended the ceremony. The last of the three bells, located at an American Army Museum in South Korea, has already prepared for its return.
The two bells in Wyoming will first be sent to a Philadelphia facility before joining the third clock in South Korea. All three are expected back in the Philippines before the end of the year.
The Philippines, a close US Allied, has called on the United States for decades to return the bells, a symbol of national pride. Campaigns like lobbied to return the watches told Filipino television networks that American veteran organizations eventually came to the belief that the watches belonged to the Philippines, and their support helped to facilitate any return.
But the president’s administration, Rodrigo Duterte, the strong Philippine leader who has tried to move his country away from his traditional alliance with the United States, has already begun claiming victory as his own.
Duterte has lobbied for the clock’s return and has said he would not visit the United States until they returned. Speaking at a press conference on the side of the regional summits in Singapore, Foreign Minister Teddy Locsin Jr., formerly the country’s ambassador to the UN, said he had raised the issue with Nikki Haley, the outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations.
He also told Haley that Duterte would not visit the United States until the bells returned.
“Later throughout the year she would call me aside and say,” Okay, I’ve brought it up with Mattis, and Mattis said as far as the Department of Defense goes, we’re okay, “said Locsin, telling a conversation he had with Haley earlier this year.
The diplomatic gesture comes in a decisive time for relations between the Philippines and the United States. Duterte, a populist president, has cozied up to China since the election in 2016, and he will host the Chinese president Xi Jinping in Manila later this month on Xi’s first visit to the country. Meanwhile, Duterte described the United States as “evil” and promised never to go there during his term. His political mark has marked an important turning point for the United States in the Philippines, a country that once was the most reliable ally in the region.
Now that the bells are coming back, Locsin said, Duterte might have to visit Washington after all.
“They’re coming back, so he has to go there to the United Kingdom, if that was the condition he did,” said Locsin. He added that he reminded the Philippine president of the exchange with Haley. Dutted laughed easily [and] Locsin said.