SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill 8967, declaring December 11 of every year as a special non-working holiday in the entire country to be known as “International Friendship, Cooperation, and Diplomacy Day in the Philippines.”
HB 8967, principally authored by Reps. Ben Evardone (Lone District, Eastern Samar), Raul Daza (1st District, Northern Samar), Victoria Isabel Noel (Party-list, AN WARAY), and Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan), aims to encourage both natural and juridical persons in the private and public sectors to further inculcate upon themselves the importance of diplomacy, cooperation, and friendship.
The measure also aims to commemorate the return of the Balangiga bells in the Philippines last December 11, 2018, as well as give due recognition to the decades-long friendly, cooperative, and diplomatic initiatives for its return.
According to the policy briefing paper of the Commission on Filipino Overseas, entitled “Migration Standpoint,” the Philippine Government, religious organization, and various groups have made initiatives for the return of the bells since 1950s.
Evardone noted that while the Balangiga bells left the country during a dark period in Philippine history and imprisoned for more than a century on foreign land as war trophies, their return to the country, which was made possible through community cooperation, friendly communications, and persistent diplomatic initiatives, is something to be remembered.
“The return of the Balangiga bells would finally close that dark period in Philippine history, erase the last vestiges of the atrocities brought about by the American-Philippine War in the 1900s, and strengthen further the alliance between the United States of America and the Republic of the Philippines, which has, since then, flourished into a more dependable partnership for growth and development,” Evardone said.
The bill provides that the Office of the President shall lead the initiatives in the conduct of appropriate and relevant activities for the successful observance of the holiday. | Molie Gonzales