US pledges to return Balangiga church bells

MANILA -- The United States ambassador to the Philippines has pledged that Washington will return three church bells seized by American forces as war spoils more than a century ago.

Ambassador Sung Kim said the two governments have discussed the return of the Balangiga bells, named for the village from which they were taken in central Philippines.

He told reporters Tuesday that the US is "deeply committed that the bells are returned to the Filipino people," but that he could not specify when that would happen.

Filipinos revere the Balangiga bells as symbols of their long struggle for independence. The bells gave the signal in the early 1900s for Filipino insurgents to attack American soldiers who were occupying Balangiga after the US took possession of the Philippines following the Spanish-American War.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his second State of the Nation Address in July, called on the US government to return the bells, saying they belong to the Philippines and are part of the Filipinos' national heritage.

READ: Duterte to US: Return Balangiga bells

"Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours... Isauli naman ninyo. Masakit yun sa amin (Return them to us. This is painful for us)," he said. (AP)

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