STATEMENTS | On the Return of the Balangiga Bells: Setting the Historical Facts Correct

By TANGGOL KASAYSAYAN/ALLIANCE OF CONCERNED TEACHERS
www.nordis.net

The Filipino people welcomes the news of the impending return of the Balangiga Bells from the US military camps in the Wyoming and South Korea as a positive step in correcting one of the most poignant symbols of the historical wrongs committed by the long history of American aggression in the Philippines. With this, we remember and honor the heroism of Filipino men and women who valiantly fought against American occupation and aggression throughout history.

The bells were taken as part of the war booties by the American occupation forces as they pillaged and burned the villages of the country and took the lives of hundreds of thousands of inhabitants in the brutal war of aggression during the bloody Filipino-American war more than a century ago. Balangiga, Samar was among the most terrorized Philippine locality during the war as it bore the brunt of the war crimes committed by the notorious American occupational forces under General Jacob Smith who ordered ‘to kill and burn’ and to ‘turn Samar into a howling wilderness’. The massacre of innocent children, elderly, women and men ensued after the notorious general infamously commanded his troops and said ‘The more you kill, the more you burn, the more you will please me. Anybody capable of bearing arms, anybody ten years and above, must be shot.”

In the guise of Benevolent Assimilation, the brutal wars of American occupation lasted for more than a decade and ensured the submission of the archipelago into American imperialist designs with the assistance of pro-American Filipino oligarchs. An entire generation of Filipinos grew up in this period of colonial war of aggression – where the burning of villages, the raping of women, the destruction of crops, the creation of concentration camps were the norm while the educational system was being instituted to mask the brutality and present American ‘benevolence.’

More than a century after the Balangiga bells were stashed out of the country, and after a long and arduous campaigns of patriotic Filipinos for the return of the bells and for the recognition of the brutality committed by American aggression during the decades of wars of aggression against the Filipino people, the bells are finally returning home. It should be recognized as a victory on the part of the Filipino people. This victory should never be taken away from the people by way of the presentation of a modern version of Benevolent Assimilation campaign that presents the magnanimity of the colonizer and masks its long years of brutal aggression against the Filipino people.

The ‘celebration’ of the return of the bells should never be given as an opportunity for American imperialism and its local allies to trumpet once more its violent character against the people. Instead of giving credit to the American government for its decision to return the bells to the Filipino people, the colonial regime should apologize for the horrors that it brought to the shores of the archipelago since the Filipino-American war. The American government should be held accountable for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, for the economic dislocation of communities, and for the general malaise that the American occupation has created in the construction of a series of American-sponsored Philippine regimes.

The descendants of the local oligarchs that welcomed the Americans since more than a century ago still lurks as the leaders of Philippine society to this day – continuously supporting the generations of successive American wars of aggression in the Philippines and elsewhere. This they did in exchange for colonial patronage, and the local elite’s continuous wealth-extractive modalities of governance that became the social base of American imperialism. The local oligarchs should be equally held liable for the violence and misery of the wars of aggression that Balangiga symbolized the most.

For more than a century, American military aggression continued, with the US military bases in the guise of “mutual’ defense that it was supposed to bring to the Philippines. The continuation of American military hegemony in the Philippines, via the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Enhanced Defense and Cooperation Agreement; the Mutual Defense Treaty and other unequal treaties between the United States and the Philippines are still very much in effect today. The Duterte regime is playing it safe by ignoring the demands of the people for the abrogation of these unequal treaties and agreements. The return of the bells of Balangiga should be start for the dismantling of these onerous treaties that only served the interest of American imperialism their local partner oligarchs.

Return all the other war booties to the Filipino people!
US Government – apologize on the war crimes committed against the Filipino people!
No more US Imperialist Wars!
Junk VFA! Junk EDCA! # nordis.net

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