People visit the Philippine Air Force Museum to view the Balangiga Bells after the US government returned them on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.
STAR/KJ Rosales
Borongan priests reject proposal to move 1 Balangiga bell to National Museum
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - December 13, 2018 - 11:06am

MANILA, Philippines — All three Balangiga bells should stay in their rightful location, the Church of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, in Eastern Samar, the Diocese of Borongan said Thursday.

The bishop and clergy of the Diocese of Borongan, which has jurisdiction over Balangiga, Eastern Samar, expressed their objection against the proposal to transfer one of the historic bells to the National Museum.

"The Balangiga Bells are sacramentals, that is, they are also sacred artifacts that call the faithful to prayer and worship. But they especially call them to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the highest form of prayer and worship for Catholics," the diocese said in a statement.

The bells belong to the church and not in a museum, the diocese said, adding that Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri's Senate Resolution 965 "does violence" to the history and purpose of the Balangiga bells.

Recognizing the significance of the historic bells, the priests stressed that they also want all Filipinos to correctly appreciate the bells.

"But just as we do not transfer Jose Rizal’s family mementos from the Rizal residence in Calamba to Manila, nor do we move from Kawit, Cavite the artifacts of the First Philippine Republic, neither should we transfer any or all of the Balangiga Bells from their historical and rightful location," the statement read.

Any effort to transfer any or all of the bells would disrespect the history and the right of the Catholics of the Eastern Samar town to their private property, it added.

"The Balangiga Encounter at which the bells played a role happened in Balangiga. It is only right that they be returned to Balangiga and stay in Balangiga," the Borangan diocese said.

Under Senate Resolution 965, Zubiri suggested that one of the three Balangiga bells should stay at the National Museum to for it to be more accessible to Filipinos.

"Whereas, placing the bell in the National Museum will give every Filipino from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao an opportunity to get a glimpse of an important piece of our nation's history," the resolution read.

Zubiri also said the bell would be accessible to students who undergo field trips to the National Museum every year.

Last Tuesday, the three Balangiga bells arrived in the Philippines aboard a US Air Force C-130. The historic bells have been taken as a war trophy by American troops in 1901.

The bells will be on display at the Philippine Air Force museum at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City until Thursday. The bells will be officially handed over to officials of Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Saturday.

Related video:

BALANGIGA BELLS EASTERN SAMAR NATIONAL MUSEUM
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