Philippines urges US to return ‘trophies for atrocities’

Above, the Balangiga bells installed at a memorial for US war dead in the state of Wyoming. (AP)
Updated 17 August 2018

Philippines urges US to return ‘trophies for atrocities’

  • The US embassy in Manila announced earlier this month it would send them back but gave no timetable for their return
  • 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

MANILA: Manila’s defense chief renewed calls Friday for the return of church bells seized by the US military more than a century ago, urging Washington to relinquish what he called “trophies for atrocities.”
American forces took three bells from the Catholic church of Balangiga town in 1901 as war booty in what historians said was a particularly brutal military operation in the former US colony.
The US embassy in Manila announced earlier this month it would send them back but gave no timetable for their return, following a public campaign by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
But reports that some US legislators would oppose the move prompted Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to join calls for the bells to be brought home.
“We call on the American people not to allow the bells to serve as trophies for atrocities that were committed by both sides on Philippine soil a very long time ago,” he said in a statement.
“The return of the Balangiga Bells will be a strong indicator of the sincerity of the Americans in forging a lasting relationship with the Filipino people.”
Duterte has demanded Washington give back the Balangiga bells during public tirades against Washington as he builds closer ties with China and Russia.
The president urged their return 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.”
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.
The Philippines, a Spanish colony for centuries, was ceded to the US in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War. The country gained independence from Washington in 1946.
The bells were taken during the brutal Samar campaign, which was launched about a month after Filipino rebels killed 34 US troops in Balangiga on September 28, 1901, according to the US Army War College.


UK PM says was obese but lost weight since virus scare

Updated 34 min 13 sec ago

UK PM says was obese but lost weight since virus scare

  • Boris Johnson: I am fitter than a butcher’s dog, thanks basically to losing weight
  • The 56-year-old spent three nights in intensive care in April after contracting Covid-19

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed Tuesday he was obese when he contracted coronavirus earlier this year, but after losing weight said he now felt much better.
The 56-year-old spent three nights in intensive care in April after contracting Covid-19, and there have been swirling questions about his health ever since.
“I am fitter than I was before, it may irritate you to know,” he said, when asked by a reporter about his health following a speech on education.
“I am fitter than a butcher’s dog, thanks basically to losing weight.
“When you reach 17 stone six (around 111 kg, 244 pounds) as I did, at a height of about five foot 10 (around 1.78 meters), it’s probably a good idea to lose weight, so that’s what I’ve done. And I feel much much better.”
An online calculator provided by the state-run National Health Service (NHS) suggests that a man with Johnson’s age, weight and height would have a body mass index (BMI) of 34.9 — classing him as obese.
It is not the first time Johnson has boasted about his health, using a newspaper interview in June to make the “butcher’s dog” analogy and even doing push-ups to prove his fitness.
But the issue has returned as a talking point amid disquiet among his Conservative lawmakers over his handling of a new uptick in coronavirus cases.
The outbreak has so far killed 42,000 people in Britain — the worst toll in Europe.
Johnson has recently been spotted running with a personal trainer in a park near his Downing Street office. As London mayor between 2008 and 2006, he was a keen cyclist.