Duterte, US Secretary of State Tillerson to discuss Balangiga bells
President Rodrigo Duterte and United States (US) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are expected to discuss the Balangiga bells on their scheduled meeting on Monday.
“We expect the president to discuss with Secretary Tillerson a wide range of relevant issues including the security situation in Marawi, the global threat of terrorism, increasing Philippine-US economic and people-to-people engagement, Balangiga bells, among others,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Monday, hours before the courtesy call of Tillerson at 4:00 p.m.
During Duterte’s second Stae of the Nation Addresss (Sona), he mentioned the Balangiga massacre of 1901, and urged US to return the bells of Balangiga church, which were taken by US troops as a war trophy.
“That’s why I say today – give us back those Balangiga bells. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage. Isauli naman ninyo, masakit iyon sa amin (Return it to us, that is painful for us),” Duterte said during his Sona.
Aside from the issues mentioned, Abella said Duterte is also open to discuss human rights issues with Tillerson, who is the highest-ranking US official to meet the president so far.
“We also welcome the opportunity to address issues such as human rights, if and when raised,” said Abella.
“We’ve always included this issue in our discussions and in engagements with foreign governments, particularly western democracies,” he added. JE
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