Friday October 22, 2021

Philippines urges US to return ‘trophies for atrocities’

August 18, 2018

MANILA: Manila’s defence chief renewed calls Friday for the return of church bells seized by the US military more than a century ago, urging Washington to relinquish what he called “trophies for atrocities”.

American forces took three bells from the Catholic church of Balangiga town in 1901 as war booty in what historians said was a particularly brutal military operation in the former US colony. The US embassy in Manila announced earlier this month it would send them back but gave no timetable for their return, following a public campaign by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. But reports that some US legislators would oppose the move prompted Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to join calls for the bells to be brought home. “We call on the American people not to allow the bells to serve as trophies for atrocities that were committed by both sides on Philippine soil a very long time ago,” he said in a statement. “The return of the Balangiga Bells will be a strong indicator of the sincerity of the Americans in forging a lasting relationship with the Filipino people.”