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Return of Balangiga bells to rectify US historical wrong on PH – Samar solons

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Samar-based lawmakers on Sunday welcomed the pronouncement of the United States Defense Department following its decision to return the historical Balangiga Bells to the Philippines.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said the Balangiga bells rightfully belong not only to the people of Samar Island but for the entire Filipino people especially those who fought for the nation’s independence.

“They rightfully belong to us as a symbol of freedom and justice,” he said

Evardone said the return of bells was just in time for the 127 anniversary of the Balangiga Encounter Day on September 28.

“The return (of the bells) will hopefully finally erase the remaining irritant or vestiges of the Philippine-American War,” said Evardone.

On Saturday, US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis notified the United States Congress that his office “intends to return the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines.”

During his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year, President Rodrigo Duterte called for the return of the three church bells taken by the US Army from the burnt-down Balangiga Church as war trophies in 1901 during the Philippine-American War.

For his part, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza hopes that the US Government will be sincere to their words this time after the many false hopes raised by past American administrations.

“I hope this development is for real,” said Daza.

Daza, a relative of the late revolutionary leader, Col. Eugenio Daza, the commanding officer of the Filipino soldiers who was in charge of the successful operation against a US detachment in Balangiga now known as the “Balangiga Massacre.”

Daza stressed that the return of the bells “would finally, rectify a grievous historical wrong inflicted by the Americans not only on the Samareños but rather on the Filipino nation.”

“The bells are not merely religious relics. They are an eloquent symbol of the courage and patriotism of the Filipino. They also are a reminder to the present generation of Filipinos that, as in the past, they should and can resist foreign domination in any form,” said Daza.

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