The Secretary of State to the Secretary of the Interior (Ickes)

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Your letter of January 21, 1946 relative to Mr. Acheson’s letter of December 13, 1945 has been received. Thank you for transmitting to this Department copies of the two letters of January 7, 1946 from the United States High Commissioner to the President of the Philippines on the subject of Philippine measures discriminating against the commercial activity of foreigners in the Philippine Islands. I appreciate the attention which you and the High Commissioner have given to this matter.

In order to assure against misunderstanding, however, I would mention that Mr. Acheson’s letter and the accompanying memorandum, pointing out the conflicts with treaties, were intended to relate only to the discriminations as to commercial activity and not to the [Page 871] questions raised by the Department of Justice circular as to real property. The High Commissioner’s letter of January 7, discussing Manila ordinance number 2898 relative to commerce and the Philippine Department of Justice circular number 14 as to real property, contains language which may be interpreted as implying that both these measures would be contrary to the treaty obligations of the United States applicable to the Philippines. In contrast to the broad rights to engage in commercial activity accorded by our treaties, there are provided almost no rights as to the ownership of real property, although several recent treaties permitted the leasing of land for limited purposes.

Moreover, it is contemplated that the commercial treaty between the United States and the Philippine Islands will contain provisions relative to real property generally which will be similar to those now under consideration for inclusion in commercial treaties with several countries. Under these provisions nationals and corporations of the United States would be accorded in the Philippines rights with respect to real property as extensive as the privileges in fact accorded to Philippine nationals and corporations by the states with which such United States nationals and corporations are identified by domicile or incorporation. Although Philippine nationals and corporations in fact enjoy broad privileges with respect to real property in many states, the treaty would not substantially increase these privileges or accord such nationals and corporations a right to a continuation of any substantial part of the privileges now enjoyed under state law.

Consequently, it would seem desirable that any further representations which might be made to the Philippine Government relative to the Department of Justice circular, or to subsequent real property measures, be based on grounds other than the treaty obligations of the United States with respect to the Philippines or the contemplated commercial treaty with the Philippine Islands.

In view of the extent to which both federal and state legislation in this country discriminates against aliens in many respects, including the ownership of real property, and of the continuance of many discriminatory laws in other countries, it is very doubtful that the Philippine discriminations under consideration would affect the status of the Philippine Islands in the United Nations Organization.

In bringing these matters to the attention of the High Commissioner please express to him my appreciation of the interest he has shown in taking these matters up with the Philippine Government.

Sincerely yours,

James F. Byrnes