MANILA - Three U.S. lawmakers are opposing the return of the Balangiga bells to the Philippines.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, in a statement Monday, said she and U.S. senators Mike Enzi and John Barraso have "voiced their strong disapproval" at the U.S. Department of Defense’s plan to return the war booty currently at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.
"While we have respect for the relationship between the United States and the Government of the Philippines, we believe that moving the Bells establishes a dangerous precedent for future veterans’ memorials," the three U.S. lawmakers said.
"These bells are memorials to American war dead and should not be transferred to the Philippines. We oppose any efforts by the Administration to move the Bells to the Philippines without the support of Wyoming’s veterans community."
Cheney added that U.S. veterans also oppose the U.S. Department of Defense's move.
"The removal of the bells is opposed by the majority of Wyoming’s veterans, including the American Legion and Wyoming Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars," she said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over the weekend signed documents favoring the return of the Balangiga bells, according to the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has yet to confirm the news, according to Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
President Rodrigo Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address last year, called for the return of the 3 church bells taken by the U.S. Army from the town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar as "war booty" in 1901 during the Philippine-American war.