MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday said nobody from both Philippine and United States governments should take credit for the return of the Balangiga bells, noting that they have always been property of “the Catholic faith.”
“The credit of the return of the Balangiga (bells) does not belong to any worker or officials of government,” Duterte said during his speech at the unveiling of the Mella Hotel marker in Las Piñas City.
Duterte said the return of the bells was “upon of the demand of the Filipino people” and reiterated that no government official should ever claim success for its return.
He also said the bells, which will make its way back home to the local parish of Balangiga in Eastern Samar on Saturday, Dec. 15, were owned by the Roman Catholic faith.
“It’s a property of the Catholic faith --- the Roman Catholic faith,” Duterte said.
Duterte is expected to attend the turnover of the church bells to town officials on Saturday after initially deciding to cancel his attendance.
He said after receiving the church bells from the U.S. government, he will hand then to local executives who will turn them over to the church officials and the townspeople.
However, he said he will not be attending the scheduled mass once the bells have returned to its place in the church.
“I’d like to order the protocol now. There’s going to be a High Mass. I will not be there. I will just float along the coastal shores of Samar,” Duterte said.
Prior to its return to the Philippines, two of the church bells were kept at the Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, while the other was housed at Camp Red Cloud in South Korea.
They were seized and declared as war trophies by U.S. troops in the aftermath of the Balangiga Massacre on Sept. 28, 1901. (PNA)
Photo by Jonathan Cellona/ABS-CBN News