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Demand for return of church bells stolen a century ago

by Tola Mbakwe

During his recent annual state-of-the-nation address, President Rodrigo Duterte commanded that the US give back the bells of Balangiga.

The bells symbolise American war trophies following the Balangiga massacre of troops and civilians during the Philippine-American War in 1901.

Duterte said: "Give us back those Balangiga bells, they belong to the Philippines.

"They are part of our national heritage. Return them to us - that is painful for us."

During the war, resistance fighters ambushed US troops in a port which left almost 50 people dead.

In retaliation, the troops were ordered to kill male Filipinos above the age of ten. His order led to thousands of Filipino casualties. The three bells from the parish church were used to give the signal for the original ambush.

After stealing them, the United States displayed two of them in a Wyoming war memorial.

Two Balangiga bells exhibited at Fort D.A. Russel, now F. E. Warren Air Force Base

The other one is in a US army base in South Korea.

The third Balangiga bell in the Madison Barracks at Sackets Harbor, New York, station of the 9th US Infantry Regiment at the turn of the 20th century. This bell is now at Camp Red Cloud, their present station in Korea.

According to The Times, returning them would need legislation.

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