Former Ambassador: Balangiga bells’ recovery a boost to Duterte’s prestige — even globally - The Daily Sentry

Monday, December 17, 2018

Former Ambassador: Balangiga bells’ recovery a boost to Duterte’s prestige — even globally

President Rodrigo Duterte during his second SONA / Presidential photo via ABS CBN

It is home, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte after 117 years rung the bell for the very first time with a clenched fist, afterwards as he has been doing in all his speaking engagements with Filipinos around the world he made a bow to the audience.

The sound of the bell (the smallest/signal bell) was met with much anticipation and hope by the local residents of Balangiga, Eastern Samar that all them were clapping and shedding tears at the same time.

That poignant and historical moment will now be remembered by generations of Filipinos to come, where we have just ask/demanded our former colonizer –the United States of America to give to us something that is very important to us as a nation.

‘Give it back’

“Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage. Isaulinamanninyo. Masakit ‘yunsaamin (Please return them. It is painful for us),” Duterte had said during his national televised 2nd State of the Nation Address.

On cue was the television cameras that the nation saw United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, whose eyebrows rose.

President Duterte followed this action by making a statement just to solidify his demand for the bells, that he will not talk to any US top officials who had expressed the desire to meet him, unless the three bells were returned to the Philippines, this was done at the time where US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis had asked the President audience for the proposed plans regarding the modernization of the Armed Forces of the 
Philippines (AFP).

All of these actions made what the Americans can’t do for the past 116 years. *

‘No doubt’

In his recent Manila Times column, veteran writer Rigoberto Tiglao reiterated that there was no doubt that the president got the crucial role which made the US return the historic bells, despite the attempts of the oppositions to disrupt, saying the return of the bells should not be credited to Duterte alone.

“Despite pathetic attempts by the Yellows, such as the blabbermouth Sen. Risa Hontiveros, to wrench off this feather in the President’s cap, I don’t think there is any doubt over Duterte’s crucial role in getting the US to return the bells.” Tiglao said

“This is a President that understands the subtle requirements for building a nation: symbols.” He added
Tiglao notes that the president’s achievement to convince the Americans “to give the bells back to the Philippines strengthens even in a small way as another precedent, the efforts of over a dozen colonized nations to get their former colonial masters to return their own looted treasures.”

Tiglao, a former Ambassador to Greece cited how hard it was really for looted artifacts to be returned to its original owner, for an instance, is the “Elgin Marbles” of the Greeks which was at the British Museum.

Greece is said to be demanding for its return since 1832, but Britain refused to oblige.*

Bend backwards

“Although the Americans of course wouldn’t admit it, the return of the Balangiga bells implicitly means some kind of apology for the thousands of Filipinos (estimates vary widely from 2,500 to 50,000) kiIled in Samar after the American general Jacob Smith issued an order to kill all persons who were capable of bearing arms in the island. “Tiglao wrote
“The return also means that the US is willing to bend backwards to respect Philippine aspirations — after 61 years.” He added
President Duterte prepares to ring one of the three Balangiga bells after his speech crediting both the Philippines and the United States for the return of the artifacts / photo from Inquirer
Residents take photos and try to touch one of the three Balangiga church bells after the turnover ceremony/ photo from Boise State Public Radio

Source: Manila Times