Bells’ return may prompt US visit
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.