Press Release
December 11, 2018


*Statement of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros

The return of the Balangiga bells, which were seized by American troops as war trophies during the Philippine-American War, marks an important milestone in the history of our country. It is a significant step in recognizing and correcting an historical wrong and in putting closure to a painful episode in our past.

We owe the return of the bells to the collective and untiring effort of many people. This includes past presidents and foreign affairs officials, Catholic church leaders, historians, Filipino-Americans and different non-government organizations. It would be wrong and insensitive for the Duterte administration to claim sole credit for the return of the bells and insist that this was the result of its so-called independent foreign policy. It was the people's strong sense of history and justice that led to the return of the bells not President Rodrigo Duterte's defeatist foreign policy which has only managed to surrender our sovereignty and territory in the West Philippine Sea.

The Balangiga bells serve as a reminder of past atrocities and the bravery and martyrdom of our heroes. The bells last tolled during the Filipinos' fight against foreign rule and were taken from us after one of our provinces was turned into a "howling wilderness." With the return of the bells, it is my hope that they will toll once again, this time in support of democracy and against an aspiring tyrant who has turned the entire country into a "modern howling wilderness" marked by unabated killings and human rights abuses.

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