‘Respect Historical Integrity, Respect Church Property’
Statement of the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of Borongan on Senate Resolution 965 Seeking to Transfer of One Balangiga Bell to the National Museum
We, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of Borongan collectively OBJECT TO and STRONGLY STAND AGAINST the transfer of one or all of the Bells of Balangiga from their historical and rightful habitat, which is the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, Diocese of Borongan.
We recognize the national significance of the bells. We likewise desire that they be correctly appreciated by all Filipinos, in particular by the young and also by the future generations. But just as we do not transfer Jose Rizal’s family mementoes from the Rizal residence in Calamba to Manila, nor do we move from Kawit, Cavite the artifacts of the First Philippine Republic, neither should we transfer any or all of the Balangiga Bells from their historical and rightful location: namely, the Roman Catholic Parish Church of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr. Any effort aimed at such a transfer is a disrespectful mangling of history and the right of the Catholic faithful of Balangiga to their private property. The Balangiga Encounter at which the bells played a role happened in Balangiga. It is only right that they be returned to Balangiga and stay in Balangiga.
The Balangiga Bells are sacramentals, that is, they are also sacred artifacts that call the faithful to prayer and worship. But they especially call them to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the highest form of prayer and worship for Catholics. Therefore, they belong in the Church, not in a museum.
Senate Resolution 965 does violence to history and the sacred character and purpose of the Balangiga Bells. It must be rejected.
MOST REV. CRISPIN B. VARQUEZ, DD
Bishop of Borongan
13 December 2018