TACLOBAN CITY- Seeking for the return of the Balangiga Bells as a condition in buying arms from the United States makes President Rodrigo Duterte a ‘traitor.’
Thus said the spokesperson of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Eastern Visayas, reacting to an earlier statement of Mr. Duterte who said that the historic bells must first be returned to the country before he decides to buy arms from the United States, where the bells are presently stored in one of its military bases.
“It is not only an insult to the memory of the people’s uprising in Balangiga against the US war of aggression to colonize the Philippines, but also treasonous for conniving with a foreign power against the Filipino people in the ongoing civil war,” Salas said in an emailed statement dated August 31.
The President had earlier said that he would not buy arms from the United States unless they would return to the country the Balangiga Bells taken in 1901 during the American colonization.
The bells were carted away when American soldiers based in Balangiga, Eastern Samar were attacked by local guerillas which resulted in the ‘worst single defeat by American forces’ during their colonization of the country as they turned Samar into a “howling of wilderness.”
The bells are presently stored at F.E. Warren Air Force Based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA.
Mr. Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address in 2017, asked the US government to return the Balangiga Bells.
Recently, efforts to return the historic bells have intensified after US Defense Sec. James Mattis said that their government is now open for the return of the Balangiga Bells.
Early efforts of the Philippine government to retrieve the Balangiga Bells proved unsuccessful.
Salas, meantime, said that just like the rest of the country, they too are seeking for the repatriation of the bells back to the country and to the town of Balangiga.
“Filipino patriots and their friends and supporters here and in the United States have long sought the return of the Balangiga Bells, a campaign with which NDF-EV is in solidarity. Together with the freedom-loving Americans and Filipinos, we look forward to the return of the Balangiga Bells to toll once more the continuing struggle of the Filipino people to be free,” he said.(JOEY A. GABIETA)