The Secretary of State to the Secretary of War (Woodring)
My Dear Mr. Secretary: I am in receipt of your letter of June 16, 1937,4 enclosing a copy of a radiogram of the same date, received in the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department from the High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands. The radiogram embodies the text of a proposed agreement between the High Commissioner and the office of the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines concerning the exchange of communications between foreign consular officers stationed in the Philippines and the Commonwealth Government. The High Commissioner asked that the matter be referred to this Department for suggestions.
The subject matter of the agreement proposed by the High Commissioner concerns the foreign affairs of the Philippine Islands which, under the provisions of the Independence Act [Section 2 (a) (10)],5 are “under the direct supervision and control of the United States”. By virtue of this provision the Government of the United States alone is authorized to determine the procedure to be followed in the matter of the exchange of communications between foreign consular officers in the Philippines and the Commonwealth Government. Although this Government is, of course, prepared to give appropriate consideration to any observations on that subject which the Commonwealth Government may desire to make, it is, obviously, improper to entertain any proposal for an “agreement” with the Commonwealth Government respecting the procedure to be followed in any matter affecting the foreign relations of the Islands.
You will recall that this Department in its letter of May 26, 1937, suggested that the High Commissioner issue a circular letter to foreign consular officers stationed in the Philippines on the subject of the exchange of communications with the Commonwealth authorities, the substantial portion of which circular was to consist of the text of the penultimate paragraph of a draft memorandum which this Department sent to the War Department in a letter dated May 12, 1937. The procedure outlined in the radiogram of June 16, 1937, from the High Commissioner is based on that memorandum but contains a number of material additions thereto.
Although this Department has no objection to the proposed amendment which suggests that triplicate copies of communications from foreign consular officials to officials of the Commonwealth Government outside of Manila be sent to the President of the Commonwealth [Page 989] Government, or to the provision that replies from local authorities of the Commonwealth Government to communications from foreign consular officials shall be transmitted through the office of the President of the Commonwealth Government, the Department is of the opinion that the other suggested changes in the procedure outlined in this Department’s memorandum are unnecessary and undesirable and should not be adopted.
The procedure outlined in this Department’s memorandum, amended in accordance with the statements contained in the preceding paragraph, would read as follows:
- Foreign consular officers stationed in the Philippines may appropriately address and appeal to the local authorities, throughout the extent of their consular districts, for the purpose of protecting the rights and interests of their nationals. Should the local authorities fail to give satisfaction, appeal may be made directly to the United States High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands who should bring the matter to the attention of the President of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. If that action should fail to effect a satisfactory adjustment, the High Commissioner will then refer the case to the Department of State and will so inform the foreign consular officer concerned. It is suggested that written communications addressed by foreign consular officers to the local authorities of the Commonwealth Government in Manila be prepared in duplicate and a copy forwarded to the High Commissioner; and that such communications addressed to officials of the Commonwealth Government outside of Manila be prepared in triplicate, one copy to be sent to the High Commissioner and one copy to the President of the Commonwealth. Replies by officials of the Commonwealth Government to communications from foreign consular officers should be transmitted through the President of the Commonwealth, and a copy of each reply should be sent to the High Commissioner by the President of the Commonwealth.
- Subjects of a political character and questions relating to exequaturs, visits of foreign war vessels and airplanes, and other formal matters should be dealt with as usual through diplomatic channels, i. e., through the Embassy or Legation in Washington of the country concerned.
- Official communications from the Commonwealth authorities to American diplomatic and consular officers should be sent to the High Commissioner for transmission over his signature to the diplomatic or consular officers concerned. American diplomatic and consular officers are being instructed to address official communications for the attention of the Commonwealth authorities to the High Commissioner for transmission.
If you are in accord with the views expressed herein, it is suggested that the High Commissioner be requested to address a formal note to the Commonwealth authorities informing them that, by direction of the President, the exchange of communications between the Commonwealth authorities on the one hand and foreign consular officers [Page 990] in the Philippines and American diplomatic and consular officers on the other hand shall be effected in accordance with the above procedure. He should also address a circular letter to all foreign consular officers stationed in the Philippines, quoting the text of Section 2 (a) (10) of the Independence Act, and communicating the first two paragraphs of the text of the suggested procedure. Their cooperation should be requested to make the procedure effective.