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Duterte to skip historic handover of Balangiga bells in Pasay

‘GREATEST CHRISTMAS GIFT’ Workers prepare the two Balangiga bells from FE Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for transport to Guam and then to Manila, where a military plane will fly them, along with a third bell from South Korea, to Eastern Samar. President Duterte and other government officials will turn over the bells to St. Lawrence the Martyr Church in Balangiga (above right), whose town plaza is being spruced up for the much-awaited return of the iconic bells. —PHOTO COURTESY OF US EMBASSY

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will skip the historic handover of the Balangiga Bells in Pasay City on Tuesday, Malacañang said.

The Bells of Balangiga would be returned to the Philippines 117 years after it was taken by the Americans as war booty.

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Undersecretary for Media Accreditation and Relations Office Feducia Mia Reyes-Lucas said Monday the handover will push through at the Villamor Airbase without the President.

“Handover of the Balangiga bells will push through however, PRRD (President Rodrigo Duterte) will not attend. Thank you,” Reyes said.

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The Palace official did not say why Mr. Duterte would skip the event.

The President’s schedule released on Sunday showed Duterte would attend the event. But in an updated schedule issued by the Palace on Monday, Duterte would no longer attend the historic activity.

The US Army took the Balangiga Bells during the Philippine-American War in 1901, where thousands of FIlipinos were killed.

Duterte first made the call for the United States to bring the bells back to Balangiga Church in Eastern Samar during his second State of the Nation Address (Sona) in 2017. /kga

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