US to return war booty church bells to Philippines

A view of the Roman Catholic church in the coastal Philippine town of Balangiga, the belfry of which the town built in 1998 in the hope that the US would return three bells it says were stolen during the 1899-1902 Philippine-American War. (Reuters/Nathan Layne/File Photo)
Updated 12 August 2018

US to return war booty church bells to Philippines

  • The US will return church bells to the Philippines troops seized in a bloody campaign more than a century ago
  • Duterte and previous Philippine governments had urged Washington to return the bells

MANILA: The United States will return to the Philippines church bells seized by American forces in a bloody campaign more than a century ago, its embassy said on Sunday, following a demand by President Rodrigo Duterte.
American forces took three bells from the Catholic church of Balangiga town on the eastern island of Samar in 1901 as war booty in what historians said was a particularly brutal military operation in the new US colony.
Duterte and previous Philippine governments had urged Washington to return the bells, with the president often raising the issue in his anti-American tirades as he builds closer ties with China and Russia.
The US had initially given a non-committal response to Duterte’s demands but on Sunday said it would return the bells.
“The Secretary of Defense has notified Congress that the Department (of Defense) intends to return the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines,” said Molly Koscina, spokeswoman for the US embassy in Manila.
“We’ve received assurances that the Bells will be returned to the Catholic Church and treated with the respect and honor they deserve,” she added, saying there was no date scheduled for the move.
Duterte’s spokesman welcomed the announcement.
Two of the bells are installed at a memorial for US war dead in the state of Wyoming, while the third is with US forces in South Korea.
Some US politicians oppose the dismantling of the memorial, and the issue had sparked an emotional response from the descendants of American soldiers who served in the Philippine campaign.
The Philippines, a Spanish colony for centuries, was ceded to the United States in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War. The country gained independence from the US in 1946.
The brutal Samar campaign was launched about a month after Filipino rebels killed 34 US troops in Balangiga on September 28, 1901, according to a US Army War College research paper.
Seven other American soldiers perished during the escape from Balangiga, and US reinforcements razed the town the day after, it added.
Then-Philippine president Fidel Ramos first sought but failed to recover the bells during a 1998 Washington trip.
Duterte, who took office in mid-2016, demanded the return of the bells during his State of the Nation address last year: “Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are not yours. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage.”


Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

Visitors try out food at 'Bengaluru Aaharotsava', a 3-day vegetarian food festival, in Bangalore on October 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 52 min 3 sec ago

Indian govt slammed over poor ranking in global hunger index

  • This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party

NEW DELHI: India’s poor rating in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) has come in for sharp criticism, with the opposition calling it a “colossal failure of government policy.”
The GHI showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.
The index is designed to measure and track hunger at a global, regional, and national level. The report, which was released on Wednesday, was a joint effort between Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfe.
“This ranking reveals a colossal failure in Govt policy and blows the lid off the PM’s hollow ‘sabka vikas’ (development for all) claim,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi, who leads the opposition Congress party.
Thomas Isaac, finance minister in the southern state of Kerala, said: “The slide started with PM (Narendra) Modi’s ascension. In 2014 India was ranked 55. In 2017 it slipped to 100 and now to the levels of Niger and Sierra Leone. The majority of the world’s hungry now resides in India.”
The GHI score is based on four indicators — undernourishment; child wasting (children below five who have a low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, (children under the age of five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and child mortality, the mortality rate of children under the age of five.
“India’s child wasting rate is extremely high at 20.8 percent, the highest for any country,” the report said. It added that, with a score of 30.3, India suffered from a level of hunger that was serious.

BACKGROUND

The Global Hunger Index showed that India ranked 102 in the database of 117 nations and trailed its smaller South Asian neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In 2000, India ranked 83 out of 113 nations.

International NGO Save the Children  said the government needed to focus on wasting and stunting. Other low- and middle-income countries in the world which are faring better have actually scored better than India in those two areas, it added.
“There are nearly 1.8 million children in the country who are wasting and for that we will need comprehensive interventions, including the provision of therapeutic foods for such children to be managed at a community level,” it told Arab News.
The NGO warned of serious social consequences, with wasting leading to impaired cognitive ability and poor learning outcomes. “Furthermore, for underweight and stunted girls, it invokes a vicious cycle whereby initial malnutrition with early child-bearing gets translated into poor reproductive health outcomes.”
Arab News contacted the Child and Family Welfare Ministry for comment but did not get a response.
Nepal ranks 73 in the index, Sri Lanka is placed at 66, Bangladesh is in 88th place, Myanmar is at the 69th spot and Pakistan ranks 94.
The GHI said these countries were also in the serious hunger category, but that their citizens fared better than India’s.