Filipino people welcome return of Balangiga Bells, demand US apology for crimes

(Amended) The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) considers the impending return of the Balangiga Bells in December as a victory for the Filipino people. It is but just and long overdue. The return of the bells, taken as war booty by American occupation forces, has long been demanded by the Filipino people as it symbolizes their resistance to US colonialism and serves as reminder of the crimes and cruelties committed by American forces during their occupation of the country.

With the return of the Balangiga Bells, the Filipino people demand an official apology from the US government for its brutal colonization of the Philippines and the war crimes perpetrated during the subsequent Filipino-American war. Without any apology for these crimes, US talk of “peace and friendship” with the Filipino people all amounts to deceit and hypocrisy.

The bells were plundered by US military forces from the town church of Balangiga, Eastern Samar in September 28, 1901. This was after setting Samar into a “howling wilderness” where American soldiers went on a frenzy of murder killing every male above 10 in retaliation for the uprising of the people of Balangiga against American colonial abuses.

Several hundred thousand Filipinos were killed in a brutal act of aggression and occupation against the newly-found nation and war to suppress the Filipino people’s revolutionary resistance.

It is grievously hypocritical for the US to return the Balangiga Bells without a modicum of apology. To return the bells as supposed “symbols of peace” aim only to placate the Filipino people. It will serve as a false gesture of “friendship and alliance” to obscure the fact that the Philippines remains an American semicolony and continues to suffer from US economic domination and policy-dictates, political interference and military interventionism.

The US imperialists perpetuate their hegemony in the country through its Philippine client-state. The strongest pillar of US power in the Philippines is the Armed Forces of the Philippines which it established, continues to train, indoctrinate, arm and direct to suppress the patriotic forces which challenge US imperialist domination in the country.

The Duterte regime, behind all its anti-US pretensions, is actually cooperative with US strategy to project military power in the Pacific region, while allowing China to strengthen its military presence in South China Sea, to the detriment of Philippine sovereignty. Twice over, Duterte is a traitor to the Filipino people.

In exchange for measly sums of military aid, Duterte has allowed to US to fortify its military foothold in the Philippines by setting up military bases and facilities inside AFP camps and expand its military presence through increased number of military exercises. Duterte has reaffirmed commitment to all unequal military treaties such as the MDT, VFA and the EDCA. It has followed the US baton in declaring the CPP and NPA as “terrorists” to serve the pretext for US involvment in counter-guerrilla operations under the US’ Operation Pacific Eagle – Philippines (OPE-P).

Filipino people welcome return of Balangiga Bells, demand US apology for crimes