The Secretary of War ( Woodring ) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary: I shall appreciate greatly your advice upon the question presented by the High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands in the accompanying letter dated November 20, 1936.

Sincerely yours,

Harry H. Woodring

The High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands ( Murphy ) to the Secretary of War ( Woodring )

Sir: It has come to the attention of the High Commissioner’s office that certain foreign consuls at Manila make a practice of sending directly to the office of the President of the Philippines, instead of through the office of the High Commissioner, notice of changes in personnel or other official actions. Simultaneous notice is given this office also. Possibly other communications pass directly between these consuls and the Commonwealth Government.

It may perhaps be considered that the Commonwealth Government is not exactly analogous to the government of one of the states of the Union, but in a sense may be considered a branch or agency of the Federal Government, vested with general control of local government affairs in the Philippines. To what extent the procedure observed by foreign consuls in the United States is applicable or appropriate in the Philippines is not wholly clear.

In view of the fact that matters relating to foreign affairs have been excluded from the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government and are among the prescribed duties and responsibilities which the High Commissioner is called upon to discharge as the representative of the President of the United States, question has arisen whether the practice being followed by local consuls is a correct one.

[Page 981]

It will be recalled that official calls are first made by foreign consuls on the High Commissioner. It would seem desirable to have the State Department or other proper authority consider this matter of official formal communications, and if necessary advise with representatives of foreign countries at Washington concerning the proper procedure.

While this office has no serious objection to the prevailing practice and recognizes that it may be a convenient and practical arrangement, it would seem desirable to establish sound procedures and correct official relations, to avoid confusion and misunderstanding concerning the status, prerogatives, and jurisdiction of the respective offices of the High Commissioner and the Commonwealth President. If possible, the status of local consuls, the nature and extent of their relations with the Commonwealth Government, should be more clearly determined and stated for the information and guidance of all concerned.


Frank Murphy