Church bells seized from the Philippines by US troops as war trophies over a century ago were returned on Tuesday, in a bid to turn the page on a difficult chapter between the historical allies.
Giving back the three so-called Balangiga bells meets a decades-old demand from the former US colony at a time when the two nations’ ties have been rattled by President Rodrigo Duterte’s pivot to China.
“Returning these bells is the right thing to do,” US Ambassador Sung Kim said at a sober handover ceremony on a Manila airfield, where a cheer went up when the bells were pulled from wooden crates.
“It is my great honour to be here at the closing of a painful chapter in our history,” he told the crowd that included people who had lobbied for years to bring the bells home.
The bells will be sent back later this week to the church i