The United States remains committed to reaching a resolution that would allow the return of the three Balangiga bells back to the Philippines, U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim said on Monday, December 4.
In a television interview, Kim said Washington is working “very hard” to return the church bells which were taken from the town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar during the Philippine-American war in 1900s.
The U.S. envoy echoed the earlier statement of Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez, expressing optimism that the Philippines will be able to retrieve the Balangiga bells soon.
“We are continuing to work very hard to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution… I’m on the same page with Ambassador Romualdez in the sense that, yes, we very much hope that the resolution will be soon,” Kim told in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
The U.S. envoy, however, admitted that some veterans’ groups, local politicians and citizens are reluctant to return the bells to the Philippines.
“Just as the issue of Balangiga Bells is a deeply emotional issue for the Philippine side, I think it’s similar in the United States,” Kim explained.
The three bells were taken from Balangiga Church by U.S. soldiers as spoils of war in September 1901—where 2,500 Filipinos aged ten and up were killed in retaliation to an earlier attack made by Filipino guerillas that killed 48 U.S. soldiers.
Two of the church bells were presently displayed at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming as a memorial to U.S. troops killed by Filipino insurgents; while the third bell was in South Korea.
During his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte demanded the U.S. to return the Balangiga bells back to the Philippines.
The president, in his speech, emphasized that the bells serve as “reminders of the gallantry and heroism” of Filipinos who “resisted the American colonizers” and “sacrificed their lives in the process.”
Last August, Romualdez said he believes “that in the long run, we will be able to get back those bells” despite a law in Wyoming that prohibits such retrieval, noting that Philippines has “quite a number of supporters and friends in Washington, D.C.” (Dana Sioson/AJPress)