Hontiveros: "Wrong and insensitive for the Duterte administration to claim sole credit for the return of the bells" - The Daily Sentry

Tuesday, December 11, 2018



Hontiveros: "Wrong and insensitive for the Duterte administration to claim sole credit for the return of the bells"



It would be “wrong and insensitive” for the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to claim the sole credit on the return of the Balangiga bells to the country, according to opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros.
Senator Risa Hontiveros / Photo from ABS-CBN

Hontiveros said it was the effort of many people that paved the way of the Balangiga bells for its return.

Wrong and insensitive

Hontiveros said it was the public’s “strong sense of history and justice” that led to the return of the bells, not the “so-called” independent foreign policy of the President.

“It would be wrong and insensitive for the Duterte administration to claim sole credit for the return of the bells and insist that this was the result of its so-called independent foreign policy,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
The Balangiga bell / Photo from Noy Morcoso / Inquirer

Collective and untiring effort

The senator said that it is through “collective and untiring effort” of past presidents, foreign affairs officials, Catholic Church leaders, historians, Filipino-Americans and different non-government organizations that made the return of the bells possible.

Read the statement of Hontiveros below:

“The return of the Balangiga bells, which were seized by American troops as war trophies during the Philippine-American War, marks an important milestone in the history of our country. It is a significant step in recognizing and correcting an historical wrong and in putting closure to a painful episode in our past.

We owe the return of the bells to the collective and untiring effort of many people. This includes past presidents and foreign affairs officials, Catholic church leaders, historians, Filipino-Americans and different non-government organizations. It would be wrong and insensitive for the Duterte administration to claim sole credit for the return of the bells and insist that this was the result of its so-called independent foreign policy. It was the people's strong sense of history and justice that led to the return of the bells not President Rodrigo Duterte's defeatist foreign policy which has only managed to surrender our sovereignty and territory in the West Philippine Sea.

The Balangiga bells serve as a reminder of past atrocities and the bravery and martyrdom of our heroes. The bells last tolled during the Filipinos' fight against foreign rule and were taken from us after one of our provinces was turned into a "howling wilderness." With the return of the bells, it is my hope that they will toll once again, this time in support of democracy and against an aspiring tyrant who has turned the entire country into a "modern howling wilderness" marked by unabated killings and human rights abuses.”

Return of Balangiga bells due to Duterte’s ‘political will’

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the return of the bells, which arrived in Manila early Tuesday, marked “a watershed in our nation’s history.”

Many have tried but it is our President’s strong political will and unquestionable dedication in asserting the rights of our country and its people which significantly contributed to this event coming into fruition,” Panelo said in a statement.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo / Photo from Esquire Philippines

We express our sincerest gratitude to all stakeholders from both the Philippines and the United States who worked tirelessly and selflessly for the return of the bells,” he added.

This unprecedented gesture,” Panelo said, “is well appreciated and will surely forge a stronger and more enduring relationship between the two long-time allies and friends as we finally close a tragic chapter in the two countries’ shared history.

As we move forward in our history, we hope that the bells of Balangiga will become constant reminders of our people’s gallantry, heroism, and strong sense of national pride.”

As we recall this dark page of our history, let the world know that our race will not allow itself to be subjugated by any foreign power and we Filipinos will always assert our sovereignty against those who will attempt to subvert it,” he added.

Duterte first made the call for the United States to bring the bells back to Balangiga Church in Eastern Samar during his second State of the Nation Address (Sona) in 2017.

The bells were returned to the Philippines after 117 years.


Source: Inquirer