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The Bells Of Balangiga: It Is Time To Go Home

Location: Washington, DC

THE BELLS OF BALANGIGA: IT IS TIME TO GO HOME -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 14, 2005)

MONDAY, JUNE 13, 2005

* Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker and colleagues, I rise today to speak about my resolution, H. Res. 313, which urges the President to authorize the transfer of ownership to the Philippines of one of the bells taken in 1901 from the town of Balangiga in the Philippines. The bells are currently displayed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

* In the 100 years since the taking of the bells occurred, the citizens of the United States and the Philippines have shared many historic and political ties. The Philippines was a staunch ally of the United States during World War II. Brave Filipino soldiers were drafted into service by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, fought side-by-side with American soldiers, and were instrumental in the successful outcome of World War II. Filipino soldiers also fought alongside our soldiers on the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam.

* Since the independence of the Philippines in 1946, the U.S.-Philippine relationship has been largely one of friendship and cooperation. The Philippines is a republic patterned basically on our own system of government. The Philippines is a valuable trading partner of the U.S. and an ally in the war against terrorism. Approximately two million Americans are of Filipino descent and close to 130,000 United States citizens reside in the Philippines. The acts of conflict that surrounded the taking of the bells of Balangiga are not consistent with the friendship that is currently an integral part of the relationship between our two nations.

* The Republic of the Philippines has repeatedly requested the return of the bells. They are an important symbol to the Filipino people, who wish to have them re-installed in the belfry of the Balangiga Church. I believe that it is time to resolve this situation in order to solidify the bonds between our two nations. My resolution would honor and promote the positive relationship our countries enjoy.

* A compromise measure has been suggested to return one of the bells, as my resolution calls for, and to create two replica bells--one for each country. This compromise would satisfy most Filipino veterans.

* As the years pass, I am confident that relations between our two nations will grow even stronger. To that end, the United States Government, which has final disposition over the Bells of Balangiga, should transfer ownership of one of the bells to the people of the Philippines as a measure of good will and cooperation. I urge the passage of my resolution.


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