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Balengiga bells

By: Johnny Dayang

MANY Filipinos may not have fully understood President Duterte’s demand in his recent SONA for the United States to return the Balengiga bells to the Philippines.

There are actually three bronze bells involved – two are at the Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, while the other is at the US Camp Hovey near Seoul in South Korea. US forces took the bells from Balengiga, Samar during the Philippine-American War.

There’s a poignant story behind the Balengiga bells. History tells how two drunk American soldiers sexually harrassed a local woman and mauled her brother who tried to save her. To assert their superiority, US troops even rounded up and detained several Balengiga men and subjected them to forced labor.

Humiliated, the locals plotted a revenge. Ringing the church bells as signal, they attacked the sleeping American soldiers one evening and hacked to death 74 of them. In retaliation the American soldiers went on a rampage, massacred and burned the village and took the bells as war booty.

President Fidel Ramos and US President Bill Clinton agreed during their time to have the Balengiga bells returned but nothing happened to date.

EGALITARIAN TRAIN. In his SONA, President Duterte stressed the urgency of his administration’s comprehensive Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act (HB 5636), the House recently approved overwhelmingly and is now in the Senate.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, principal author of the measure that was consolidated with Quirino Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua’s similar bill and several others, describes the TRAIN as the country’s “most egalitarian legislation since the first Philippine Congress was convened in 1945.”

TRAIN is projected to deliver about R354 billion monetary impact annually, R170 billion of which represent direct transfer from the elite to middle income and poorest households. Aside from its other landmark features, TRAIN will overhaul our onerous personal income tax system. It will exempt those earning up to R250,000 a year from income taxes, while those earning more will be assessed higher taxes based on set tax brackets. That makes it truly egalitarian.

As Salceda explains “TRAIN is the only tool that could make our tax system more efficient, equitable and pro-poor, since the government cannot exclusively tax the rich because such measure would immediately be struck down as class legislation.”

Information teams now engage various sectors to ensure accurate understanding of the measure.

MANY Filipinos may not have fully understood President Duterte’s demand in his recent SONA for the United States to return the Balengiga bells to the Philippines.

There are actually three bronze bells involved – two are at the Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, while the other is at the US Camp Hovey near Seoul in South Korea. US forces took the bells from Balengiga, Samar during the Philippine-American War.

There’s a poignant story behind the Balengiga bells. History tells how two drunk American soldiers sexually harrassed a local woman and mauled her brother who tried to save her. To assert their superiority, US troops even rounded up and detained several Balengiga men and subjected them to forced labor.

Humiliated, the locals plotted a revenge. Ringing the church bells as signal, they attacked the sleeping American soldiers one evening and hacked to death 74 of them. In retaliation the American soldiers went on a rampage, massacred and burned the village and took the bells as war booty.

President Fidel Ramos and US President Bill Clinton agreed during their time to have the Balengiga bells returned but nothing happened to date.

EGALITARIAN TRAIN. In his SONA, President Duterte stressed the urgency of his administration’s comprehensive Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act (HB 5636), the House recently approved overwhelmingly and is now in the Senate.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, principal author of the measure that was consolidated with Quirino Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua’s similar bill and several others, describes the TRAIN as the country’s “most egalitarian legislation since the first Philippine Congress was convened in 1945.”

TRAIN is projected to deliver about P354 billion monetary impact annually, P170 billion of which represent direct transfer from the elite to middle income and poorest households. Aside from its other landmark features, TRAIN will overhaul our onerous personal income tax system. It will exempt those earning up to P250,000 a year from income taxes, while those earning more will be assessed higher taxes based on set tax brackets. That makes it truly egalitarian.

As Salceda explains “TRAIN is the only tool that could make our tax system more efficient, equitable and pro-poor, since the government cannot exclusively tax the rich because such measure would immediately be struck down as class legislation.”

Information teams now engage various sectors to ensure accurate understanding of the measure.

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