The historic Balangiga Bells, carried in a wooden crate, arrive in the town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. Townsfolk welcome the bells, which were taken more than a century ago by United States troops as war trophies.
STAR/KJ Rosales
National Museum saddened over local church's 'hot reaction' to Balangiga Bells proposal
(philstar.com) - December 14, 2018 - 7:54pm

MANILA, Philippines — The director of the National Museum of the Philippines expressed sadness over the reaction of a church district to the proposal of Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri to keep one bell in the National Museum — at least temporarily —  so it would be accessible to more Filipinos.

"The hot reaction of the Church authorities in Samar, whom we have been working with for years to rebuild the church in Guiuan since Typhoon Yolanda, is understandable—although much too strongly worded as to be provocative of unnecessary controversy and acrimony," Jeremy Barns said in a statement on Friday.

Barns was referring to the reaction of the Diocese of Borongan to Zubiri's proposal.

Bishop Crispin Valdez of the Diocese of Borongan, Eastern Samar, led church leaders in the region in opposing Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri’s proposal on Thursday, to move one of the bells to the National Museum, pointing out they are the property of the diocese.

READ: Borongan priests reject proposal to move 1 Balangiga bell to National Museum

“We, the bishop and clergy of the Diocese of Borongan, collectively object to and strongly stand against the transfer of one or all of the bells of Balangiga from their historical and rightful habitat, which is the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, in Balangiga, Eastern Samar,” the diocese said in a statement.

Bishop Crispin Valdez of the Diocese of Borongan, Eastern Samar, spoke out against the proposal on Thursday.

“We, the bishop and clergy of the Diocese of Borongan, collectively object to and strongly stand against the transfer of one or all of the bells of Balangiga from their historical and rightful habitat, which is the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, in Balangiga, Eastern Samar,” the diocese said in a statement.

The Church of San Lorenzo de Martir in Balangiga is under the Archdiocese of Borongan.

“Senate Resolution 965 does violence to history and the sacred character and purpose of the Balangiga bells. It must be rejected,” the diocese said.

READ: Transfer of bell to museum opposed

Zubiri told reporters in an ambush interview Thursday that he only appealed to the church to share one bell “temporarily to instill awareness for the Filipino youth who visit the national museum."

"How arrogant are they to say it is disrespecting the history of our country. We are just asking for it to be shared temporarily,” Zubiri said.

But Barns clarified that the museum was not involved in any way in the resolution filed by Zubiri. "We only learned about [it] after the fact—nor in any other initiative, past or present, that might involve bringing any or all of the bells to the National Museum," Barns said.

But he said the museum would take care of the bells, however, if they were asked to.

The bells will be turned over to the San Lorenzo de Martir in Balangiga on Saturday after 117 years in possession of the United States. — Ryan Macasero

BALANGIGA BELLS NATIONAL MUSEUM PHILIPPINES
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