MANILA—United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Saturday signed documents favoring the return of the Balangiga bells to the Philippines.
According to the Presidential Communications Group, the US Embassy in Manila said Mattis has notified the US Congress that his department "intends to return the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines."
"No specific date has been identified for the return of the Bells. We've received assurances that the Bells will be returned to the Catholic Church and treated with the respect and honor they deserve," the embassy said in a statement.
In December 2017, US President Donald Trump signed the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, which gives Mattis the authority to decide on the return of the Balangiga bells.
President Rodrigo Duterte, during his State of the Nation Address last year, called for the return of the 3 church bells taken by the US Army from the town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar as "war booty" in 1901 during the Philippine-American war.
The bells remain at an American Air Force base in Wyoming.