PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte's act of not taking credit for the return of the three Balangiga bells merely emphasized his "action-oriented and no-frills public service marked by humility," Malacañang said on Friday, December 14.
"President Rodrigo Roa Duterte disowning credit for the successful return of the Balangiga Bells to the country after more than a century outside of Philippine soil highlights the style of the Chief Executive: action-oriented and no-frills public service marked by humility," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters.
"The President's statement also shows his sincerity in upholding sovereignty through the use of diplomacy as a leverage to achieve what the country rightly and truly deserves," he added.
On Thursday, December 13, Duterte said the United States's (US) move to return the three bells to Balangiga town in Eastern Samar should be attributed to the Filipinos' "demand" and not to the Philippine government alone.
Panelo said that despite Duterte's efforts to ensure the repatriation of Balangiga bells from the United States, the Chief Executive decided to give credit for the successful return of the church bells to "all Filipinos."
The Palace official said Duterte's latest remarks only proved that the Chief Executive "acts pursuant to his, and of course to the public’s, always, interest and welfare."
"The fact remains, is that many have tried and it was the President’s call that triggered the series of meetings that finally resulted in the coming home of the Balangiga bells. But this is not per say, that the attempts were all futile. To us, it’s just like a ladder. It was steps that finally reached the pedestal," he said.
"It bears stressing that all of [Duterte's] actions are based on the constitutional command addressed to him, to serve and to protect the people. Nothing more, nothing less. He gives credit to all Filipinos under this administration and it is our desire as a community which motivates him perform his best," he added.
In 1901, the three Balangiga bells were taken by the US troops as war booty after killing the townspeople of Balangiga during the Filipino-American war.
After Duterte's previous demand for the bells' repatriation, the US on December 11 finally handed over the Balangiga bells to the Philippine government.
On Saturday, December 15, Duterte would lead the turnover of the three bells to Balangiga officials in Eastern Samar. (SunStar Philippines)