Priests not asked to go out: Panelo witnessed Duterte cordial to Church leaders during Balangiga bells turnover ceremony - The Daily Sentry

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Priests not asked to go out: Panelo witnessed Duterte cordial to Church leaders during Balangiga bells turnover ceremony

President Rodrigo Duterte exchanged greetings and pleasantries with some of the Catholic leaders during the turnover ceremony / photo from Facebook

Manila, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified on Sunday night that there was no ill feeling between President Rodrigo Duterte and some Church leaders during the turnover of the Balangiga bells as implied by a social media post of the Diocese of Borongan.

Panelo said he did not see any occurrence nor hear complaints from the Apostolic Nuncio and the CBCP President.

Not the President’s style

“ It is absolutely out of the President's character nor his style to cause mortifications during an event. If it indeed happened, then the same is not authorized and such unethical conduct cannot be sanctioned by PRRD. It could have been done by someone who represented himself or herself as a staff from the PMS.” he said in a statement

The spokesman noted that the President approached the Church leaders shortly after his arrival at the Balangiga town plaza and they exchanged pleasantries.

"He likewise acknowledged their presence in his brief remarks. The Chief Executive even mentioned in his speech that the Filipino nation is one with the Diocese of Borongan in celebrating this historic event," Panelo said

"All went well and only the uproarious rejoicing of the Balangiga people and the guests who attended was the contaminating mood at the gathering," he added.

The ringing bells ushers unity and peace

The presidential spokesman also said that the ringing of the Balangiga bells comes with a call of unity and peace among Filipinos regardless of political affinity or religious belief.

“This is a time when all Filipinos, regardless of political affinity or religious outlook, come together and rejoice an event which we had long sought - and hoped for. We will not allow such a reported unwanted incident to spoil this momentous occasion. The tolling of the Balangiga Bells ushers in a call of unity and peace among us Filipinos. We can only respond in heartfelt approbation.” He said*

The history of the Balangiga bells

Duterte witnessed the turnover of the bells to the local officials of Balangiga on Saturday, December 15, but skipped the Catholic Mass that followed after.

The Balangiga bells were by the American soldiers as war loots during the Filipino-American war in 1901. The Americans had slain the townspeople after Filipino guerrillas attacked, following the tolling of the Balangiga bells, and kilIed several American soldiers.

The United States government agreed to return the bells more than a century (117 years) after these were taken.

Workers unload one of the three church Balangiga bells after it arrived at the town plaza in Balangiga, in Eastern Samar province, on December 14, 2018, a day before a ceremony / photo from Philstar

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, December 15, led the ceremonial turnover of three historic bells at the Balangiga auditorium, in front of the San Lorenzeno de Martir church where the bells originally belonged / photo from Sun Star