June 26, 2011 in international
By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — The horror of American colonization in the Philippines is not only remembered by the story when Gen. Jacob H. Smith ordered the shooting of all male Filipinos from ten year old and above if they failed to surrender; people remembered, too, when the Americans took three church bells in Balangiga, Eastern Samar as war booty.
Urging the United States government to correct such injustices that its forces committed in the height of its pacification campaign in the Philippines, the House of Representatives, through a resolution, called the US government to effect the immediate return of the church bells of Balangiga and other artifacts taken from Samar by its forces in 1902.
Passed by the House of Representatives, House Resolution (HR) 112 aims to correct a continuing wrong by the US by keeping in their possession the bells of Balangiga and other artifacts, which were forcibly taken by the US military forces in Balangiga 109 years ago, explained Bayan Muna Party List Rep. Teddy Casiño.
Casino is the author and main sponsor of the House Resolution 112 which was approved on May 11.
“The Filipino people regard the said bells not as tools or spoils of war that should be kept as war a trophy but as historic and religious treasures made for the people of Samar that have become a significant part of Philippine heritage – unlike how Americans regard their own Liberty Bell enshrined in Philadelphia,” added Casiño.
Filipino revolutionaries attacked US troops
It can be recalled that on Sept. 28, 1901, Filipino revolutionaries from Balangiga, Eastern Samar attacked the 9th US Infantry Regime in that area where 48 American soldiers were killed while 22 were wounded.
Due to their defeat by the ill-equipped Filipino fighters, Gen. Smith, called “Hell-Roaring Jake” by Casiño, ordered his troops to shoot all Filipino males above ten years of age and capable of carrying arms.
Not contented with the carnage of innocent civilians, the American troops took the bells from Balangiga.
According to Casiño, the artifacts taken by the US troops are: two (2) church bells with the Franciscan Order emblems dated 1863 and 1889, respectively, and an English-made Falcon cannon dated 1557. These are on display at the Trophy Park of the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
A smaller church bell with the Franciscan Order emblem dated 1896 was taken and is with the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment in Camp Red Cloud, Korea, added Casiño.
Return the Balangiga bells
There were various calls for the return of the artifacts to the Philippines, including representatives from the US churches and legislators.
Casiño said that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne in Wyoming and the National Bishops Conference of America have expressed support for the return of the bells as a gesture of goodwill and faith since ‘in war, there are no war trophies except freedom.’
Various resolutions have been introduced in US state legislatures and the US Congress supporting the return of the bells. Reportedly, it included House Concurrent Resolution 481 introduced on Sept. 26, 2006 by US Representatives Bob Filner, Dona Rohrabacker and Ed Case.
Casiño added that a US House Resolution 16 which supports the call to return the bells was also introduced on January 27, 2003 in the State of Maryland.
“This US resolution recognizes that the surprise attack on the US garrison at Balangiga must rightfully be viewed in the context of the Filipino struggle for independence from Spain and the United States, and it should be acknowledged that Americans may have employed no less ‘surprising’ and ‘unprovoked’ means to fight for their own independence from England during the Revolutionary War,” Casiño said.
Casiño ended: “We hope that the Barack Obama administration will address this important resolution by the 15th Congress and heed calls to return the Bells of Balangiga. # nordis.net