Historic Balangiga bells to return home on December 11

Marje Pelayo   •   December 5, 2018   •   3505

 

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)

Lorenzana, US counterpart pledge to strengthen bilateral alliance

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 19, 2019

United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (R) and Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (L) shake hands during a press conference at a military camp in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 19 November 2019. Esper is in the Philippines for a series of meetings to discuss terrorism and defense relations between the two countries. EPA-EFE/MARK R. CRISTINO

Department of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and United States counterpart Mark Esper pledged to strengthen the bilateral alliance of the Philippines and the United States during their meeting on Tuesday (November 19).

In a joint statement, the two officials both praised the Philippines-United States alliance and also pledged to improve information sharing to prevent terrorist attacks and the transit of foreign terrorist fighters in and through the Philippines.

“Both sides have committed to focus on developing capabilities and enhancing cooperation in both maritime and aerial domains through the conduct of the Philippines-United States Mutual Defense Board-Security Engagement Board activities,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile, both countries also reiterated their commitment to upholding freedom of navigation, overflight, other lawful uses of the sea in the South China Sea.

Esper said they stand for international rules, pertaining to the maritime dispute between China and other Southeast Asian countries.

“The clear signal that we’re trying to send is not that we oppose China per se, but that we all stand for international rules and international laws and we think China should abide by them as well and that acting collectively is the best way to send that message to get China on the right path,” he said.

Both parties are also open to reviewing the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty of the Philippines and the United States.

“In my opinion, it has been made in 1951 at the height of the Korean War. And the situation then compared to now is different. So, we are now in the low-level discussion first,” Lorenzana said.—AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Lorenzana not keen on another extension of martial law in Mindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   November 11, 2019

Philippines Secretary of National Defence Delfin Lorenzana looks on during the fifth plenary session of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 18th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, 02 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WALLACE WOON

MANILA, Philippines – Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Monday said he is not keen on recommending another extension of martial law in Mindanao after it expires on December 31, saying it has been going on for too long.

“Kung ako lang, I will not recommend anymore the extension. Matagal nang masyado eh. We can do our job naman,” Lorenzana told reporters in an interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

“Kaya nga, especially if the Senate or Congress can pass the, ‘yung Human Security Act na medyo mabigyan ng konting ngipin ‘yung ating law enforcement, then that’s a better arrangement than the martial law,” he added.

Proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007 aim to broaden the definition of terrorism, ease restrictions on surveillance and extend the lawful detention of suspected terrorists to 30 days from the current three days.

Lorenzana earlier said these proposed changes would help the police and the military identify terror suspects and build tighter cases against them.

Mindanao has been under martial law since 2017 after Maute Terror group attacked Marawi City.

The martial law was initially set for 60 days but it was extended until the end of 2017, then until the end of 2018 and to the end of 2019.

However, Lorenzana said he will act accordingly if the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces decide to recommend another extension.

“We’ll see, we’ll evaluate the reasons of the military and the police and act accordingly,” he said.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said that President Rodrigo Duterte will take into consideration the recommendation of the defense and security officials before making a decision on whether or not to seek another extension of martial law.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Lorenzana’s pronouncement against prolonging martial rule would also be considered by the chief executive.

“That will be considered by the president. The president always says that he will defer to the advice or recommendation of those who are on the ground,” he told reporters at a Palace briefing. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Lorenzana wants to deploy new PH Navy ship to Sulu, Palawan seas

Robie de Guzman   •   August 21, 2019

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).

READ: PH welcomes newly-acquired warship BRP Conrado Yap

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.

The acquisition of the vessel follows the concern raised by the Philippine Military on the series of uncoordinated passage of Chinese warships within the country’s waters, including the Tawi-Tawi’s Sibutu Strait near the Sulu Sea and Palawan.

A diplomatic protest has been filed by Manila on the incursion of Beijing’s vessels.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte also issued a directive requiring all foreign vessels to secure a clearance when passing the Philippine waters. (RRD with details from correspondent Joan Nano)

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