MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will no longer welcome the arrival of the Balangiga bells at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Malacañang said Monday.
The Palace said the arrival rites on Tuesday, Dec. 11, will still proceed but without the President, as originally planned.
Palace officials did not provide any reason why the President would not be present in Tuesday’s ceremony.
After 117 years, the bells, which were taken as war trophy by the US troops from Balangiga town during the Filipino-American war, are expected to return to the country on Tuesday.
They will arrive in the Eastern Samar town on Dec. 15, Saturday, for another ceremony.
The Palace has thanked the United States for the gesture, which it believes will formally put closure on the "tragic and contentious" episode in the history of the two countries.
"We consider the occasion as an affirmation of our strong and enduring relations with our long-standing ally, the United States," Malacañang said in a statement on Sunday.