By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said President Duterte taking no credit for the return of the Balangiga bells highlights the Chief Exectuive’s humble dedication to public service.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after Duterte in a speech Thursday evening said nobody should claim credit for the return of the historic artifacts.
In his Friday press briefing, Panelo said Duterte’s remarks show how the President is dedicated to serve the people and uphold the country’s sovereignty.
“The recent remarks of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte disowning credit for the successful return of the Balangiga Bells to the country after more than a century outside of Philippine soil highlights the style of the Chief Executive: action-oriented and no-frill public service marked by humility,” he said.
“The President’s statement also shows his sincerity in upholding sovereignty through the use of diplomacy as a leverage to achieve what the country rightly and truly deserves,” he added.
The Palace official also stressed that all of Duterte’s actions are based on the constitutional command addressed to him, to serve and to protect the people.
“He (Duterte) gives credit to all Filipinos under this administration and it is our desire as a community which motivates him perform his best,” Panelo said.
“While we act in accordance with the President’s actions, he acts pursuant to his, and to of course to the public’s, always, interest and welfare,” he added.
Meanwhile, Panelo also gave credit to the past administrations who tried to get the Balangiga bells home after it was taken by American soldiers as war booty in 1901.
“Many have tried and it was the President’s call that triggered the series of meetings that finally resulted in, to the coming home of Balangiga bells. But this is not per say, that the attempts were all futile. To us, it’s just like a ladder. It was steps that finally reached the pedestal,” he said.
Duterte will be leading the ceremonial turnover of the historic bells to the local officials in Eastern Samar Saturday. He was also supposed to lead the turnover by the US government on Tuesday but skipped the said event.
All three Balangiga bells made their way back to the Philippines on Tuesday, almost 17 months after Duterte publicly appealed to the US to return the bells during his second State of the Nation Address last year.
Meanwhile, Panelo said Duterte is still thinking about going to the United States for a visit. The President earlier said he will never set foot in the US. However, he hinted that he might visit if the bells are returned.
“I talked to him (Duterte) about it and he said, ‘It’s so cold there. I really can’t stand the cold,'” Panelo said.
“He (Duterte) has not said he is going but he’s considering. He’s still studying. Pinag-aaralan siguro,” he added.