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US envoy to make sure ‘no hiccup’ in Balangiga bells return

MANILA – The ambassador of the United States to the Philippines on Monday said their government would make sure there would be no hiccup in the return of the Balangiga bells, which he said could happen “soon.”

Ambassador Sung Kim said they would able to move forward with the return of all bells if the “notification passes without any action by Congress.”

“We will make sure there is no hiccup. This is a long, difficult issue for both sides so I’m hopeful that we will be able to reach conclusion or resolution,” Kim told ANC’s Headstart.

“Assuming there is no hiccup, we should be able to return all 3 bells, hopefully soon,” he said.

Defense Minister Jim Mattis has notified the US Congress that the Department of Defense “intends to return the bells” to the Philippines. Two of the bells are currently in Wyoming and another one is in South Korea.

In August, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney said she and 2 other US senators have “voiced their strong disapproval” at the Department of Defense’s plan to return the bells, which are currently at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, because it “establishes a dangerous precedent for future veterans’ memorials.”

President Rodrigo Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address last year, called for the return of the church bells taken by the US Army from the town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar as “war booty” in 1901, during the Philippine-American war.