Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. unwittingly said something at odds with what his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte, has been saying since he came to power in 2016.
Had it not been for that “incident” near the Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, the 121st anniversary of Philippine independence would have come and gone like any other holiday whose significance escapes many Filipinos.
The protracted democratization process began during the reform and revolutionary periods of Philippine history, but was derailed and interrupted by both US conquest as well as by the treachery of the rural gentry that had hijacked the Revolution.
The United States has announced that President Donald Trump will take up human rights issues in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte in their one-on-one meeting sometime during the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this November. It’s hardly likely that the meeting with Trump will result in any immediate change in the state of compliance with human rights standards of the Duterte regime. But Trump’s bringing them up now is a reminder that those issues can be used later when it suits US interests.
President Rodrigo Duterte is absolutely right. The Balangiga bells, seized by United States Army soldiers from the Catholic church of Balangiga town, Samar in 1902, “are part of our national heritage,” and should be returned to the Philippines.