PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday said he will not attend the thanksgiving mass for the historic bells that are returning home to the Catholic church in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Saturday.
The President, however, is scheduled to attend the turnover ceremony of the Balangiga bells to the local officials, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo.
In his remarks at an event in Las Piñas, Mr. Duterte said he will be skipping the thanksgiving mass.
“There’s going to be a High Mass. I will not be there. I will just float along the coastal shores of Samar,” he said.
“It’s going to be like this. The American government will give it back to me. Then I will give it to the local executives. And the local executives will turn it over to its rightful owner, the people of Balangiga and ‘yung pari doon (the priest there). Kanila ‘yun (It is theirs). So hanggang dito lang ako (That’s where it stops for me). I do not want to hear the mass. I have heard all the masses in the world,” said the President, who was brought up a Catholic but has been lashing at the church and criticizing its clergy.
He also noted that the return of the bells “were upon of the demand of the Filipino people.”
“The credit of the return of the Balangiga does not belong to any worker or officials of government,” he said.
The three bells were taken by American soldiers as a war booty during the Philippine-American War in 1901. — Arjay L. Balinbin