Philippine President urged US to return church bells

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, called on the United States of America to return to the Philippines the bells stolen from the churches of the village of Balangiga in 1901.

"Give us back these Balangig bells. They belong to us. For us this situation is very unpleasant", - said Duterte.

He also noted the warming of relations with China in a controversial issue regarding the South China Sea.

Three Balangig bells were removed by the American army from the village of Balangiga in 1901 during the war of the USA and the Philippines.

Two of the bells are installed at a memorial for US war dead in Wyoming, while the third is with US forces in South Korea.

Some US politicians oppose the dismantling of the memorial.

US embassy spokeswoman Molly Koscina gave a non-committal reply on Tuesday to Duterte's demands.

"We are aware that the bells of Balangiga have deep significance for a number of people, both in the United States and in the Philippines," she said in an email to AFP.

Duterte on Monday repeated a Filipino account of the campaign that the commanding general, Jacob Smith, ordered Samar be turned into a "howling wilderness" and that all Filipino males aged 10 or above be killed.

A 1902 US court-martial convicted Smith of a minor offence in relation to the Samar campaign, while 39 other Americans were separately found guilty of torturing and shooting Filipino prisoners there, the US Army War College research paper said.



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