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SUPPORTERS OF THE RETURN OF BALANGIGA BELLS RACING AGAINST TIME!

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SUPPORTERS OF THE RETURN OF BALANGIGA BELLS SHOULD CALL THEIR AREA SENATORS, CONGRESSMEN!

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)

 

CHICAGO (JGL) – Two bells were returned to Japan by Superintendents of the U.S. Naval Academy and the Virginia

Military Institute.

The Mayors from Detroit, Duluth, Atlanta and Topeka also have returned bells to Japan.

And just last year, the Superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point returned another similar bell to the Philippines also taken in 1901. This return was undertaken by a group led by former U.S. Navy Captain Dennis Wright, Chairman of the Board of the Clark Veterans Cemetery Restoration Association and the Bells of Sorrow Association and Peregrine Development International based in Dubai Airport Freezone in United Arab Emirates.

Why can’t the U.S. Congress return the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines?

The U.S. bicameral joint conference committee will have an answer on Sept. 30, 2017 when the provision that prohibits the return of the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines expires.

The Senate and House versions will reconcile this week the little-known provision embedded in the annual 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) whether to keep or delete the provision that blocks the return of the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines.

The Senate version allows the deletion of the provision while the House version wants to keep it.

At least one group of supporters, Chicago Nightingales (CN), a nurses organization, that commemorated a vigil to remember the victims of the Balangiga Massacre 116 years ago on Sept. 28 (Sept. 29, Philippine Time) will have a role cut out for them to lobby for the deletion of the provision.

 

HOUSE ARMED SERVICES DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE MEMBERS

(To supporters for the return of Balangiga Bells, please write/email/Fax/call these Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to return the Bells. Thank you.)


Another group led by Jerry B. Clarito, a son of a Filipino World War II veteran, is planning to make a courtesy call on the Chicago, Illinois area U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D) and Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9) to apprise them of the deletion of a provision in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that blocks the return of the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines. 

Liz Cheney (R), a junior member of the House of Representatives and elder daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, reinserted the restrictive provision first offered by Senator Craig Thomas nearly 20 years ago into the House version of the bill. 

SENS. McCAIN, REED OTHERS FOR RETURN OF BELLS 

But a group of concerned veterans, diplomats and friends, and with the support of Senators McCain, Reed and others were able exclude the controversial, if not Byzantine provision from the Senate version. The bill now must be reconciled through bicameral negotiations in joint conference. 

While the House version perpetuates the provision, the Senate version does not. Supporters of the return are urged to call their Senators and Congressmen that at the joint conference, the provision by the House version should be removed.

The NDAA provision that prevents the return of the Balangiga Bells will expire on September 30, 2017. And the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives should be informed that this provision should not be extended.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a huge bill that executes its Article 1 constitutional obligation to “provide for the common defense” also equips, supplies, and trains the troops; cares for them and their families; and sets national security policy in a dangerous world.  

However, embedded in prior years NDAAs, is a small provision that heretofore no one ever gave much thought to.  Back in the 2000 timeframe, the Wyoming congressional delegation successfully inserted a small provision that prohibited the return of “Veteran Memorial Objects” brought to the US from foreign shores with the singular purpose of preventing the return of the two bells on Warren Air Force Base - - without even mentioning bells. 

This well-crafted, and seemingly innocuous language was sponsored and inserted by former Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas.  It flew under the radar so to speak, and no one took exception at that time because few were even aware of it, and fewer still understood the facts and circumstances surrounding the bells, how they were taken and their history.  This provision is set to expire September 30, 2017.  

SENATE ARMED SERVICES REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE MEMBERS 

(To supporters for the return of Balangiga Bells, please write/email/Fax/call these U.S. Senators to return the Bells. Thank you.)


 

FORMER WYOMING GOV. HATHAWAY FAVORS RETURN OF BELLS 

In 1998, former Wyoming Governor Stan Hathaway (1967-1975) wrote Senator Thomas arguing that it was wrong to keep the bells. 

Governor Hathaway said the position of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion on this issue is wrong. “As a member of those organizations and as a combat veteran of World War II, I think I have a right to express that opinion. 

“If we adopted the same philosophy with respect to Germany and Japan and have no forgiveness of military acts between our nations, we would indeed be asking for more trouble. 

“The Germans have forgiven us for the killing of 300,000 people in Dresden bomb raid of 1945. I was on that mission. To hang on to some undefined military principle after 100 years doesn’t make any sense to me or most people of Wyoming. 

“I realize that you have taken a position on this issue, but I hope that you will change that position so that we can improve the friendship with the Philippines, which was once a protectorate of the United States, and help them celebrate their 100th birthday as free nation.” 

As the bill moves toward becoming law, each body of Congress submits its version.  The two committees that are responsible for the NDAA are the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).  Hence the individuals who have the most influence are the members of the HASC and SASC.  A listing and pictorial matrix of the members on both the House and Senate Armed Services Committee is included below for your convenience such you can reach out and contact them. 

Members of the team that was responsible for the return of the Bells of San Lorenzo will be reaching out this week to key members of both the HASC and SASC, including both Chairmen and Ranking Members, as well as others, to make sure the House provision IS NOT perpetuated and included in NDAA 2018.   

SENATE ARMED SERVICES DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE MEMBERS 

(To supporters for the return of Balangiga Bells, please write/email/Fax/call these U.S. Senators to return the Bells. Thank you.)

 


The members who will have the biggest impact on the final version of the bill are the joint conferees themselves. They will be mainly drawn from the HASC/SASC members, with some additional committees called on to conference specific provisions. 

For example, perhaps from Foreign Affairs, who may be drawn on for comment/opinions.  But ultimately the members who matter most are members of the HASC and SASC and their respective party and chamber leaders, the so-called "Big 4" - the HASC and SASC Chairmen and Ranking Members. They will decide what is in the final bill. This is where supporters need to do to help. 

Supporters of the bells’ return are urged to contact elected officials this week and send emails to members of the HASC and SASC, especially if one of the members below represent their state or district, as they do listen to their constituents.  But it must be timely, as it is this week that they will begin negotiations to reconcile the two versions.  It is easy, just Google the names of your elected representatives to find their official web site. 

An email to the officials of the HASC/SASC may run like this:  

“There is a provision, sponsored by the Wyoming delegation, in the House version of the NDAA that would preclude return of two Catholic church bells that were taken in 1901 from the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir from the small town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar, Philippines.  These church bells are presently on display at Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyoming and a third in a U.S. Army base in South Korea.  Church bells belong in churches calling the faithful to worship, not on military bases.  

COMMEMMORATING THE VICTIMS OF BALANGIGA MASSACRE: 

MEMBERS OF CHICAGO Nightingales, a 501c(3) founded in 2013 as a voluntary, impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian organization to promote health and wellness in the community and provide assistance to communities stricken by human-induced disaster or calamities locally and in Third World countries, principally the Philippines, had regrouped last Sept. 19 to commemorate the struggles of the victims of the Balangiga Massacre 116 years ago on Sept. 28 (Sept. 29 Philippine Time). Photo shows  front row seated (left to right): Nimfa G, Sania M, Linda, Cora O, Corny O; back row standing (left to right):  Rex V, Keith D, Hazel G, Sally T, Gloria G, Joy R, Phoebe D, Rose SD, Gemma E, Shyla E. (Photo by Rex Viejon, RN )


“There are many precedents for returning bells, including two bells returned to Japan by the Superintendents of the US Naval Academy and the Virginia Military Institute.  Mayors from Detroit, Duluth, Atlanta and Topeka also have returned bells to Japan. And just last year, the Superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point returned another similar bell to the Philippines also taken in 1901.  

“ I am asking for your support to make sure that the said Wyoming provision in the House version of the NDAA IS NOT perpetuated and excluded from the final version of NDAA 2018.   

“Just two months ago, President Duterte of the Philippines, formally asked the US to return these same two church bells.  I fully support this because it is the right and honorable thing to do. I know that our US Embassy in Manila is also calling for return of the bells.  We need your support.  For additional factual information concerning the Bells of San Lorenzo de Martir, often referred to as the bells of Balangiga, can be found in a well-researched, factual and documented Essay that is hosted on VFW Post 2485 web site atwww.vfwpost2485.com.” 

NAMES OF 48 US SOLDIERS WERE READ 

During the commemorative event by the Chicago Nightingales, the names of forty-eight soldiers who lost their lives in action from the roster of the US Army 9th Infantry Regiment of Company “C” were read by four member nurses following an impromptu strike of a miniature bell each time twelve names were called.  The bells chime echoing out to the group of nurses leaving goose bumps.  A separate blank paper was folded in quarters with a lone chime representing in memoriam the twenty-eight villagers killed also that day, who either resided in the town or nearby barangays.  The memorial program reading of the names for the nurses organizations was led by its CN President Phoebe Doruelo, RN.  

In an asserted effort Chicago Nightingales stands along with Philippine President Duterte in requesting the assistance of US President Donald Trump to safely secure the immediate release of the three church bells removed from the Town of Balangiga, Samar.  Our mission is to help remind the sacrifices made then and to keep the bells ringing for the fallen until their return. 

The healing process must begin somewhere, from someone and thus far it has taken our nations heroes of 1942, to include the Forgotten War of Korea and Vietnam to know first-hand the ugly face of war.  The Philippine American War was unavoidable under its existing colonial conditions that ended tragically on both sides 116 years ago. (Contact Reporter: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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