Prominent Eastern Visayas historian Rolando Borrinaga yesterday shared a message from Bellevue, Nebraska Mayor Rita Gomez Sanders, who told him about the supposed announcement from US Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Boy Santos
Balangiga bells may return soon to Philippines
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - August 11, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The United States government has reportedly decided in favor of returning the Balangiga bells to the Philippines. 

Prominent Eastern Visayas historian Rolando Borrinaga yesterday shared a message from Bellevue, Nebraska Mayor Rita Gomez Sanders, who told him about the supposed announcement from US Defense Secretary James Mattis. 

“Good news today! The Secretary of Defense announced the return of the Bells! Keep you posted for announcements etc! I am so happy for you!” read the message of Sanders, a Filipino-American. 

In an exchange with The STAR, Borrinaga said Sanders received the information from Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, who learned of the announcement of Mattis. 

But he said no official announcement has been made as of yesterday afternoon. 

“This is just an alert, posted by Mayor Rita Gomez Sanders on Facebook after getting a call from her congressman within this hour. I guess the official statement will be released in the morning (It is midnight now in the US.) Anyway, the announcement was apparently made in time with the fiesta of San Lorenzo de Martir in Balangiga today, Aug. 10,” he said on Facebook. 

Asked if congressional approval is needed for the return of the bells, Borrinaga – the secretary of the National Committee on Historical Research of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts – said it is no longer necessary as the return was also provided for in the US’s National Defense Authorization Act of 2018. 

“The final clincher is the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense to the President for the bells to be returned,” he said. 

“The final push was brought about by the concerted efforts of US veterans working for goodwill and understanding between both countries,” added Borrinaga in the comments thread of his post. 

The three bells were taken by the United States Army from the church of Balangiga town, Eastern Samar in 1901 during the Philippine-American war. 

The ringing of the bells signalled Filipino guerrillas to attack American troops on Sept. 28, 1901, killing at least 48 members of the 9th US Infantry Regiment. 

In retaliation, US General Jacob Smith ordered the American troops to turn the whole island into a “howling wilderness,” setting the town on fire and killing as many as 2,500 Filipinos. 

The return of the Balangiga bells was among the constant demands of President Duterte to the US since he assumed the presidency. 

BALANGIGA BELLS NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CULTURE AND THE ARTS
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