840.48 Refugees/1350a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy)

67. For Myron Taylor. President Quezon has approved the following statement to be made by you at the full meeting of the Committee:

“The Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines will be happy to cooperate with the United States Government and other governments concerned, in an effort to find a solution of the refugee problem which it is realized must be approached upon broad humanitarian grounds. The Commonwealth Government is willing to continue the plan in operation since May 1938, which permits the entry into the Philippines upon advance approval of a limited number of refugees whose maintenance has been previously guaranteed by interested persons. The foregoing plan is naturally subject to existing and future immigration laws and regulations. The Commonwealth Government believes that under this plan there may be admitted as many as 1,000 persons annually.

“The Commonwealth authorities are furthermore favorably inclined to a plan which would permit the settlement of refugees on the island of Mindanao and in other sparsely populated areas of the Philippines. The island of Mindanao, the southernmost of the Philippines Archipelago, has an area of some 37,000 square miles, is sparsely inhabited, is in the main favorable climatically, and is believed to be capable of supporting a very considerable population. The Commonwealth Government is now completing plans for the large-scale colonization of Mindanao by Filipinos and substantial sums are available for general development purposes. It is believed that this program could be materially aided through the use of refugee specialists, engineers, technicians, doctors, skilled and semi-skilled artisans. The Commonwealth Government would favor the settlement of refugees in Mindanao in accordance with the following conditions in such numbers and at such a rate as may be found to be within the interest of Philippine national economy.

  • “1. That a responsible committee representing the refugees or acting on their behalf shall submit a satisfactory plan to finance such settlements;
  • “2. That the settlers will agree to engage in subsistence farming or such other activities as may be compatible with the best interests of the Philippines;
  • “3. That they shall take out naturalization papers as early as possible, thereby expressing their intention to become Filipino citizens;
  • “4. That until they become Filipino citizens they shall reside in the land reserved for them;
  • “5. That the number of refugees to be admitted as settlers shall be fixed for the time being by the Commonwealth Government acting upon the recommendation of the committee in charge of the settlement in course of preparation, having in view the committee’s ability to take care of the settlers and the consequences of large-scale settlement upon the national economy of the Philippines; and
  • “6. That the plan contemplated and its execution shall be subject to the immigration laws now in force or which may hereafter be passed by the National Assembly.”

While President Quezon has not asked that this statement be kept confidential, we believe that any extensive publicity would be more harmful than helpful. For your information, in the event that you should be questioned at the meeting, authorization to enter the Philippines has been granted since October 1, 1938 to 402 refugees. Should you be questioned concerning the number who might be admitted for colonization in Mindanao, you might state, in confidence and for purely illustrative purposes, that the Philippine authorities are thinking of ultimately absorbing roughly 10,000 refugees. In this connection you should make clear that the fundamental criterion is the interests of Philippine national economy and that the Commonwealth Government and this Government would favor the settlement of as large numbers as may in practice be found compatible with the interests of the Philippines.