Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Philippine Affairs (Lockhart)

Participants: Mr. Stettinius
President Osmeña of the Philippine Commonwealth Government
Mr. Lockhart, PI

Mr. Osmeña called on the Secretary of State today and stated that he wished to discuss briefly several Philippine matters. He stated that in his opinion it would be inadvisable at this time to appoint a High Commissioner to the Philippines. He did not feel that such an appointment would be well received by the Filipinos. He said that General MacArthur was strongly opposed to the appointment of a [Page 1198] High Commissioner22 and had so informed the Secretary of War. Mr. Osmeña said that he had taken this matter up with President Roosevelt at Warm Springs on April 5 and had informed him of his (Mr. Osmeñas) views and had also informed him of the attitude of General MacArthur. Mr. Osmeña remarked that the President had mentioned the possibility of appointing a Special Representative instead of a High Commissioner. Mr. Osmeña said that he believed this was the best course to pursue and that such a representative was needed in the Philippines at the present time as someone in high authority should be present with whom Commonwealth officials could deal. Mr. Stettinius said that it seemed to him preferable that a Special Representative should be appointed instead of a High Commissioner and at this point Mr. Lockhart remarked that it should be kept in mind that the functions of the Office of the High Commissioner were transferred to the Interior Department in 1942 by the President.23 Mr. Stettinius then said that he would send a letter to the Secretary of the Interior proposing that a Special Representative be sent to the Philippines rather than a High Commissioner and Mr. Osmeña acquiesced and stated that he would in the meantime see Mr. Ickes and tell him that he preferred that a Special Representative be sent to the Philippines instead of a High Commissioner.24 Inquiry was made of Mr. Lockhart as to whether he thought Mr. Ickes would oppose this proposal and he answered that he thought Mr. Ickes would strongly oppose the suggestion. Mr. Stettinius suggested to Mr. Osmeña that he discuss the matter with Mr. Grew which Mr. Osmeña said that he would be glad to do at Mr. Grew’s convenience. Mr. Osmeña said that Mr. Ickes would be certain to oppose the appointment of a Special Representative but that he would confer with him and press for the appointment of a Special Representative.

In the course of the conversation Mr. Stettinius said that in reality there was practically no difference between a Special Representative and a High Commissioner; that the difference was in title only and that this was not really important.

Mr. Osmeña then turned to the subject of rehabilitation and said that there was great need for relief and rehabilitation legislation and [Page 1199] spoke of the changed situation in the Philippines in this regard brought about by the war. The conversation turned into a question of the cooperation of Filipinos with the Government of the United States in a trade program, and both Mr. Osmeña and Mr. Stettinius agreed that there would be no lack of cooperation and that there must be special trade relations between the United States and the Philippines for a reasonable period; that there must be cooperation in other things as well, including an understanding on military and naval bases. Mr. Osmeña said that there would be no difficulties along these lines; that the Filipinos were quite willing for the bases to be established and were prepared to work out plans for the mutual benefit of the Philippines and the United States in this regard as well as in economic and defense matters.

Mr. Stettinius suggested to Mr. Lockhart that he talk over Philippine economic matters with Mr. Clayton.25

Frank P. Lockhart
  1. In despatch 1, March 21, 1945, the Consul General at Manila (Steintorf) reported that General MacArthur was unalterably opposed to re establishment of the office of the High Commissioner as it would be essentially obstructive and totally unnecessary in view of the pending early independence of the Philippines (123 [Steintorf, Paul P./3–2145]).
  2. Under Executive Order No. 9425, September 16, 1942; 7 Federal Register 7328.
  3. In a memorandum of April 24, 1945, of a conversation with Mr. Grew and Mr. Osmeña, Mr. Lockhart reported a statement by the Philippine President that the day before he had informed Abe Fortas, Under Secretary of the Interior, of his wishes to have a Special Representative sent to the Philippines rather than a High Commissioner but that, nevertheless, Mr. Fortas favored the appointment of a High Commissioner (811B.01/4–2445).
  4. William L. Clayton, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.