Historic Balangiga bells to return home on December 11
Marje Pelayo • December 5, 2018 • 3358
One of the historic Balangiga Bells | Photo courtesy: Philippine Embassy in Washington DC
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana confirmed on Monday (December 3) that the historic Balangiga bells are finally coming home to the Philippines after 117 years.
“Ang bells of Balangiga are coming back home. It will arrive on December 11 in the morning. We are looking at December 15 to return in Balangiga,” Lorenzana said.
The bells were taken by the United States Army from the Balangiga Church in Eastern Samar as war booties during the Philippine-American War. It was used by Filipino fighters to signal the attack against American soldiers at a detachment in Balangiga in September 1901 where 54 U.S. soldiers were killed.
Mayor Randy Graza of the town of Balangiga said preparations are underway prior to the arrival of the bells on December 15, in time for the start of the Catholic’s misa de gallo or simbang gabi.
“Definitely a formal turnover is doon sa simbahan, sa pastoral church. Iyong diocese ang nakakaalam ng program. Sa amin naman na part ang security. Ikino-coordinate namin sa PNP at sa military. Iyon lang naman ang part ng LGU,” he said.
Graza said the organizing committee is contemplating on a possible reenactment of the 1901 Balangiga massacre in association with the bells’ return.
Two of the bells have already been flown from the F. E. Warren Air Force in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to an air base in Guam while the third one has already been placed in a crate in South Korea, ready for transport.
All three bells will be returned to the country.
With the bells’ arrival, the municipal tourism office is expecting an influx of tourists which would help boost the town’s revenue. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Jennelyn Valles)
MANILA, Philippines – If Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had his way, the country’s newly-acquired vessel BRP Conrado Yap will be deployed to Palawan and Sulu seas.
Lorenzana said this on Tuesday on the sidelines of the welcome ceremony for the BRP Conrado Yap, a Pohang-class corvette donated by South Korea, at the Manila South Harbor.
“Kung ako, baka siguro sa Palawan and the Sulu seas,” he said. “It depends on the Navy how soon they can bring that to the south,” he added.
The BRP Conrado Yap arrived in the Philippines several weeks after it was handed over by South Korea during a ceremony at Jinhae Naval Base on August 5. The corvette was used by South Korea from 1987 to 2016 as Republic of Korea Navy ship Chungju (PCC-762).
The 32-year old warship is regarded as the Philippine Navy’s “most powerful ship” to date because of its torpedo launchers and sonars that are capable of detecting submarine and other potential underwater threats.
The Philippine Navy believes the addition of the heavily armed vessel will provide significant boost to its capability in patrolling and safeguarding the country’s territorial limits.
It will also serve as transition platform in empowering and upgrading Filipino sailors’ knowledge and skills in handling such high-level and advanced equipment/vessel especially with the impending delivery of modern frigates in the next two years, the Philippine Navy added.
MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to require foreign vessels to first secure a clearance from the government before entering the Philippine waters.
“That is a very good development. At least now we have some authority to enforce our laws within our territorial waters,” Lorenzana said Tuesday.
Earlier, Duterte, through spokesman Salvador Panelo, issued a directive for all foreign vessels to provide notification and get clearance from proper government authority in advance of the actual passage. He also warned foreign vessels that Manila will either get compliance in a friendly manner or enforce it in an unfriendly manner.
When asked to elaborate, Panelo explained that by saying ‘unfriendly,’ it means blocking entry to any foreign vessels intruding in the Philippine territory.
He, however, clarified that the President’s order didn’t mean an automatic use of force against intruders.
“By that it means that we will ask them to move out of the place, that’s unfriendly, because before we never said anything, we just allow them, we just make protest, but this time, we will tell them, please get out of our territorial waters,” Panelo said.
Lorenzana, for his part, could not say yet the “unfriendly option” the Philippine Military could use to ward of intruders into the country’s waters. The Defense chief said he will defer the matter to the Philippine Navy. (RRD with details from Correspondent Joan Nano)
MANILA, Philippines – Several senators on Monday slammed Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua over his remark that Filipino workers in China might be suspected of being spies.
At a Committee on Foreign Relations Organizational meeting, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel assured the Chinese envoy that Filipinos in China are not spies but are there to earn a living.
“Let me assure China, there are no Filipino spies in China. Kaya wag silang mag-alala. Ang mga Pilipino po na nasa China ay para po sa pagta-trabaho,” he said when asked for his comment on the issue.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier expressed concern over the location of the Philippine Online Gaming Operations (POGO) hubs near military camps, saying these Chinese-dominated casinos could be used for espionage purposes.
In response to Lorenzana’s remark, Zhao reportedly told Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo that they may also be inclined to look at Filipino workers in China as spies.
For Senator Risa Hontiveros, the Chinese Ambassador’s statement could be considered a threat.
“Ito ay maituturing na banta sa buhay at kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayang OFW sa Tsina. It is a veiled threat in response to our simple and reasonable desire to strictly regulate Chinese POGO operations in the country and ensure the country’s national security,” Hontiveros said.
“Our OFWs are not spies. They have no history of espionage. Filipinos abroad are valued both for their skill and unique blend of hard work and care. They pose no threat. In fact, in China, our workers are employed in areas that are nowhere near military and security facilities. To insinuate that they could be committing espionage is not only insulting but plainly false,” she added.
He added that Lorenzana is a competent official and his job is to advise authorities on a matter of security.
“He has nothing but good intentions. We should defer to him,” he said.
Drilon further stated the possibility that POGO workers could be used for information gathering is not a remote possibility.
“It’s convenient when there is a need for it. Why should we leave that chance unchecked?” he said, adding that he supports Lorenzana’s proposal to move POGO hubs farther away from military camps.
Hontiveros also said the Lorenzana did not accuse Chinese workers employed in POGO hubs as spies, but merely pointed out the proximity of the firms to military camps which can be exploited by unscrupulous people to undermine the country’s security.
The senator also recalled Lorenzana’s point that Chinese firms are mandated by the Chinese government to assist in intelligence collection for their government.
“Foreign workers, including Chinese workers, who fully comply with our laws and respect the rights of Filipino workers are welcome in our country. We demand the same from our OFWs working in and hosted by foreign countries. However, our country also reserves the right to ensure the safety of its citizens and protection of its state secrets,” Hontiveros said.
To address this issue, Hontiveros said there should be a thorough review of all Chinese POGOs near military installations and camps, adding that the defense department “must make a comprehensive appraisal and provide necessary proposals.”
She also suggested for stricter regulation of the POGO industry to ensure that revenues are monitored, taxes are paid and domestic facilities are not used to commit crimes.
Hontiveros added that there should be pressure on the Chinese government to commit more to work closely with the Philippine authorities in regulating the entry of illegal and undocumented Chinese workers into the country.
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.