Manila: The US will return to the Philippines church bells seized by forces in a bloody campaign over a century ago, its embassy said on Sunday, following a demand by President Rodrigo Duterte.
US forces took three bells from the Catholic church of Balangiga on the eastern island of Samar in 1901 as war booty in what historians said was a brutal military operation in the new US colony. Duterte and previous Philippine governments had urged Washington to return the bells, with the President often raising the issue in his anti-American tirades as he builds closer ties with China and Russia. The US had given a non-committal response to Duterte’s demands but on Sunday said it would return the bells. “The Secretary of Defence has notified Congress the Dept intends to return the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines,” said Molly Koscina, spokeswoman for the US mission.