The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was unimpressed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s clamor for the United States (US) government to return the Balangiga bells, seized by the US Army as a war trophy to mark a bloody massacre by American forces of over 50,000 Filipinos in Samar island during the Philippine-American war.
The CPP said that Duterte is just using it for “self-serving purposes” which is to “countermove calls by some sectors in the US to investigate violations of human rights in Duterte’s drug war” and to “push his insistence on the US to provide him with brand new weapons”.
Duterte, in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24, calls on the US to “give back those Balangiga bells”. This followed after he cited how his administration is pursuing an independent foreign policy while establishing good relations with all nations.
But the CPP lambasted Duterte’s insincerity in realizing his “independent foreign policy”, stating that he actually became “so dependent on the US to feed his obsession to drop bombs on homes and schools,” also citing how Duterte remained silent on the current status of US “military interventionism” in the country.
“He has no shame in upholding the anti-national US-RP Mutual Defense Treaty and all other unequal military treaties and in letting the US military remote-control the operations in Marawi City through its advisers and military contractors”, the CPP said.
Last year, President Duterte went on a series of tirades against the US for his bloody purge of drug addicts and drug lords alike. Duterte hit back with photos of the Bud Dajo massacre in Mindanao and the Balangiga massacre in Samar. He also promised to stop all military exercises with the US.
In May this year, the patriotic group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Eastern Visayas (BAYAN-EV) denounced the continuation of Balikatan war exercises in Ormoc City, Leyte and in Guiuan, Eastern Samar despite Duterte’s earlier pronouncement of pulling-out US troops in the country.
The group cites that the American military is repositioning itself in strategic locations across the Philippines, particularly in Samar towns along the Pacific. Just 60 kilometers away, south of Balangiga, the US is maintaining the presence of its troops in Guiuan, the location of former Navy 3149 Base, the largest American naval base in the Pacific during World War II.
Meanwhile, teachers group Alliance of Concerned Teachers in Eastern Visayas (ACT-EV), said in a press statement that the return of the Balangiga Bells “will never undo the atrocities of [the] US then and now.”
“Yes we want the Balangiga bells back but the Filipino people want something more profound than that. It would have mattered more if Duterte offered the Filipino people something more than the initiative of asking for the return of the Balangiga bells,” ACT-EV adds.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers hit the US for using “(t)he onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda last November 2013 as an opportune time for US Ospreys and naval vessels to swoop in on Guiuan under the guise of humanitarian assistance. In a matter of days, the US scrambled to move its military and naval assets from Japan and about 300 of its troops to Samar. The USS George Washington also arrived from Hong Kong and was stationed off Samar Island.”
As early as 2010, a US corporation, the Millennium Challenge Corporation has financed the construction of the 222.49 M USD-worth road network from Western Samar to Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
“But two-faced that he is, Duterte is asking for the return of the bells while on the other hand openly bowing to US dictates. Unlike our ancestors who valiantly fought foreign colonial rule, clearly, Duterte has lost all his bravado,” ACT-EV said.
Party list Bayan Muna repeatedly filed a House resolution calling for the return of Balangiga bells since 2007.#