Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Commercial Policy (Brown)


I telephoned Mr. McNutt in Manila and told him that we had just received his telegram no PIW 577, June 25,47 about the executive agreement with the Philippines to implement the Bell Bill, and would give him a prompt answer. He said that opinion in Manila was unanimous that with respect to Article I, paragraph 3, the language of the Bell Bill itself should be used and no attempt to consolidate should be made.

I then said we understood from Mr. Lockhart that Mr. McNutt felt the executive agreement should be presented to the Philippine Congress prior to July 4, and as we were in some doubt as to whether the agreement would be a binding international commitment if adopted by the Philippine Congress, we wished he would explain somewhat more fully his reasons for proposing this action.

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Mr. McNutt said that his proposal was made because of the political situation in the Philippines. President Roxas was afraid that the Philippine Supreme Court might construe the executive agreement as a treaty, since there was nothing in Philippine law or the constitution about trade agreements. If the agreement were so construed, its ratification would require a vote of three-fourths (he must have meant two-thirds) of the Philippine Senate. President Roxas was sure that he could command a majority in the Philippine Congress, but was doubtful whether he could carry a three-fourths vote in the Senate. Therefore, both Mr. McNutt and President Roxas felt that the best way to handle the matter was to present it to the Congress before July 4.

If there was any doubt as to whether the agreement so ratified would be a binding international commitment, Mr. McNutt said President Roxas would doubtless be willing to resubmit the document to the Congress for re-ratification after independence.

I thanked Mr. McNutt and told him we would give him a very prompt reply. Mr. McNutt emphasized that time was of the essence.

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