Bells’ re­turn may prompt US visit

Tempo - - News - (Fran­cis T. Wake­field)

De­fense Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana has ex­pressed be­lief that the re­turn of the Balangiga bells to the Philip­pines will con­vince Pres­i­dent Duterte to visit the United States next year.

In an in­ter­view on the side­lines of the Pilip­inas Con­fer­ence 2018 fo­rum in Makati City Fri­day, Loren­zana said Philip­pine Am­bas­sador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Ro­mualdez is now talk­ing to the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive to con­vince him to visit Amer­ica next year.

"Well, pinag-uusapan. Am­bas­sador Ro­mualdez is try­ing to talk with the Pres­i­dent to go there next year," Loren­zana said.

Loren­zana dis­closed the Pres­i­dent has an in­ten­tion to visit the world's big­gest econ­omy and talk to lead­ers there, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

"Meron siyang... is there but we are still kinukumbinse pa siya ni Am­bas­sador Ro­mualdez."

Loren­zana re­it­er­ated that Duterte doesn't hate the Amer­i­cans, just some of the peo­ple in the United States.

"Si Pres­i­dente na­man sabi niya, ‘I don't hate the Amer­i­cans, I just hate some of the peo­ple there’," he said.

Loren­zana said the his­toric bells will be flown into the coun­try by an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary air­craft to the Vil­lamor Air­base in Pasay City be­fore noon Tues­day.

Duterte is ex­pected to wit­ness the re­turn of the Balangiga bells, which, for more than a cen­tury, were kept at the War­ren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Upon ar­rival, the bells will be briefly viewed by the Pres­i­dent and other in­vited guests to be fol­lowed by speeches from Loren­zana, United States Indo-Pa­cific Com­mand chief Ad­mi­ral Philip David­son, rep­re­sent­ing US De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis, and US Am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines Sung Kim.

Loren­zana said that the re­turn of the his­toric bells will fi­nally put a clo­sure to one of the dark pages in the coun­try’s his­tory when these were taken by Amer­i­can soldiers as war booty dur­ing the bloody Philip­pine-Amer­i­can War al­most 117 years ago.

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