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Balangiga bell sparks word war between Zubiri, Diocese of Borongan


By Vanne Terrazola

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday hit back at church leaders who described as “disrespectful” his suggestion to share one of the returned Balangiga bells to the National Museum for the benefit of the youth.


Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri

His suggestion was opposed by Bishop Crispin Varquez and the clergy of the diocese which said the move is “a disrespectful mangling of history and the right of the Catholic faithful of Balangiga to their private property.”

Zubiri said he found the clergy’s statement arrogant, stressing that he was not insisting on keeping one of the Balangiga bells at the National Museum in Manila when he filed Senate Resolution No. 965.

“If they don’t agree, so be it. How arrogant naman are they to say that this is disrespecting the history of our country,” he said in an interview Thursday afternoon.

“Actually, we are just asking that it be lent to the National Museum so that more Filipino people will know the history of the country,” he said.

Zubiri said he does not demand that the Catholic Church donate one of the historic bells, but was just moving that it be allowed to be exhibited in the country’s premier museum for a short time.

He said he sees no problem with it since it is being practiced, anyway, by other countries on similar historic artifacts, such as The Mona Lisa and Egyptian mummies.

In defending his appeal, Zubiri said several grade school and high school students will benefit from the proposed display of a Balangiga bell at the National Museum.

“It will instill nationalism, awareness to the hundreds of thousands of youth that visit the National Museum every year, kasi di naman sila makakapunta lahat sa (because not all of them can fly to) Balangiga, Samar… Not every family, every student can visit Samar,” he said.

“If they don’t want it so be it. Walanamangproblemasa akin yan. Kung ayaw niyo, eh ‘di huwag’ (If you don’t want it, then don’t share it),” he said.

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