US returns ‘Bells of Balangiga’ to Philippines a century after clash

Above, two of the Bells of Balangiga installed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. (AP)
Updated 11 December 2018

US returns ‘Bells of Balangiga’ to Philippines a century after clash

  • The decision to return the ‘Bells of Balangiga’ to the Philippines ends a decades-long quest by Manila
  • All three bells will be restored and handed over to the Philippines as early as December

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyoming: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday formally returned church bells to the Philippines that were taken as war trophies over a century ago following gruesome clashes, seeking to close a contentious chapter in the two allies’ shared history.
The decision to return the “Bells of Balangiga” to the Philippines ends a decades-long quest by Manila, including by President Rodrigo Duterte, and is expected to bolster US-Philippines’ relations.
But it has upset some US veterans and Wyoming’s delegation to the US Congress, which uniformly opposed returning bells that were a memorial to the 45 US soldiers who were killed during a surprise attack on Sept. 28, 1901, in the central town of Balangiga.
Two of the three bells have been on display at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. The third bell is at a US Army museum in South Korea.
Mattis, speaking at a ceremony at the air force base attended by the Philippines ambassador to the United States, said the Philippines has proven itself as a great US ally in conflicts over the century since that clash. He said the sacrifices of US forces would not be forgotten.
“To those who fear we lose something by returning these bells, please hear me when I say: Bells mark time, but courage is timeless,” Mattis said. “It does not fade in history’s dimly lit corridors.”
In Manila, the Philippines’ foreign affairs department cheered the move.
“Today is a time of solemn remembrance as we pay tribute to all those who gave up their lives during the Filipino-American War,” it said.
Wyoming’s Congressional delegation, which did not attend the ceremony, issued a terse statement.
“We continue to oppose any efforts by the Administration to move the Bells to the Philippines without the support of Wyoming’s veterans community,” Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Representative Liz Cheney said in a joint statement.
All three bells will be restored and handed over to the Philippines as early as December, said Joe Felter, deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia.
The 1901 attack in Balangiga, on the Filipino island of Samar, was seen as perhaps the worst routing of US soldiers since the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.
According to historians, one or more of the church bells were rung to signal the attack in Balangiga.
US forces took the bells after a brutal counterattack that killed anywhere from hundreds to thousands of people in the Philippines, historians say. One US general was said to have directed his troops to “make the interior of Samar a howling wilderness.”
Some Wyoming veterans, like Cheryl Shannon at Veterans of Foreign Wars, said they were fine with the decision to return the bells.
“We’re tired of it always being an issue,” said Shannon, an Iraq war veteran.
But Hank Miller, a veteran with the VFW who wanted to keep the bells in Wyoming, said broader support for his position had faded as it became clear Washington would return the bells.
“I was advised to ‘stop fighting a losing battle’ and ‘stop beating a dead horse’ as the bells were going back,” Miller said.


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 25 min 47 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.