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May 27, 2005

BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar  - On May 8, 2005, the Diocese of Borongan and the Balangiga Parish launched a petition addressed to the Helsinki Commission, the United States Congress and to President Bush calling for the return of the Balangiga church bells that were removed in 1901. On May 17, 2005, the GLOBAL petition was launched on the Internet.

On March 26, 2005, during the Wyoming Veterans’ Commission meeting, the commission courageously voted to return the church bells.  One of the Commissioners who strongly opposed the return of the bells in 1998 made a statement to support the return of the church bells.  In his statement, retired US Air Force Lt Col Joseph Sestak said, “Returning the bells is the right thing to do in light of the present international climate and the fact that many nations are now returning artifacts or booty to the nations from which they came."

Also in attendance of the meeting was Jean Wall, the daughter of Private Gamlin, a soldier who survived the ordeal in Balangiga. Jean Wall appealed to those who opposed the return of the bells and said: “I don’t think my father and his comrades who survived that horrible ordeal at Balangiga would be proud of any other decision but to send the bells home and close the book on that chapter of our history."  “I am sure that the majority of Americans today, both military and civilian, want to act upon those ideals that America was founded on in a manner that sets an example of compassionate and democratic society," she added.

Before the December 3, 2004 and March 26, 2005 meeting in Wyoming, Bishop Medroso has been “troubling heaven by making shameless cries.” Bishop Medroso added, “For me what happened on September 28, 1901 was not a freak accident,” he said. “It was the work of history. And history oftentimes has a way of joining two people together, two countries, and two races. The encounter, the bloody combat, the senseless loss of lives of our dear ones, the hate, the nightmares, all these are part of the unfolding of history.

“But so also is the struggle to understand each other, to let go of hate and animosities, to extend the open hands for pardon and forgiveness, to embrace one another as brothers and sisters. “The Bells of Balangiga have stood as the mute yet faithful witness to the history of the two countries: America and the Philippines; history of two communities: Wyoming and Balangiga."

The general public is welcomed to electronically sign the petition and make a special thanks to the Wyoming Veterans’ Commission, simply go to http://www.petitiononline.com/bells05/ Comments are welcomed but please avoid using inflammatory language.





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