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In retaliation of the massacre, U.S. Army General Jacob H. Smith instructed Major Littleton Waller, commanding officer of a battalion of 315 US Marines assigned to bolster his forces in Samar, regarding the conduct of pacification.

Smith said, “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn, the better it will please me… The interior of Samar must be made a howling wilderness.”

Littleton Waller, in a report, stated that in 11 days, his men burned 255 dwellings, shot 13 carabaos and killed 39 people.

Some Filipino historians believe some 50,000 were killed.

The remaining U.S. Army soldiers, however, took with them three church bells, which U.S. Army soldiers believed were instruments used as signals for the attack.

General Smith, who ordered the killing of every male over 10 years old, during the retaliatory campaign, was subjected to court-martial for “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline.” Reprimanded but not formally punished, Smith was forced into retirement because of his questionable conduct.

If President Duterte seeka reparation for the Filipino death of “children under ten” after the Massacre, he would certainly support the return of the bells not because they are government property but because they are church properties.

Only the U.S. Congress can order the repatriations of the bells to Balangiga because the late Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming) hosting two of these three bells in his state had barred its return by introducing language in the Defense Authorization Bill, S. 1055, that would prohibit “the return of veterans’ memorial objects to foreign nations without specific authorization law.”

Although, no object or the country’s name was mentioned in the bill, this refers to the Bells of Balangiga.

Perhaps, in another massacre that happened after the Philippine-American War, Duterte may also press for restitution by the U.S. for about 1,000 Moro or Muslims, who were mowed down atop an extinct volcano called Bud Dajo in Jolo, Sulu in far-off Mindanao in March 1906.

In a privilege speech at the Philippine Senate on March 7, 2006, Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr., father of incumbent Senate President Koko Pimentel, jolted his fellow senators with a little known stand taken by about 1,000 Tausogs (Muslims), who decided to fight to the last man in an elevated encampment called Bud Dajo in Jolo.

Of the some 800 to 1,000 Moros at Bud Dajo, only six survived. Corpses were piled five feet deep (1.5 meters), and many of the bodies were wounded multiple times, Pimentel reported.

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quick to congratulate General Leonard Wood, who was the governor of the Moro Province at that time, for the “American victory.”

Thanks to the presence of the international media in Manila, the foreign reporters cabled the news about the massacre to the outside world with a banner headline in the New York Times issue of March 11, 1906 screaming, “Women and children killed in Moro Battle; Mingled with Warriors and Fell in Hail of Shot. Four days of fighting Nine Hundred Persons Killed or Wounded — President Wires Congratulations to the Troops.”

Under pressure from Congress, Secretary of War William Howard Taft cabled Wood for explanation of the “wanton slaughter” of women and children. Despite not being in command of the assault (although he was the senior officer present), Wood accepted full responsibility. By the time the scandal died down, Wood had assumed his post as commander of the Philippine Division, and General Tasker H. Bliss had replaced him as governor of the Moro Province.

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A native of Sorsogon, Philippines, he and his family now live in Chicago. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.

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