811.24596/3–1447: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Philippines (McNutt) to the Secretary of State

448. Following is statement of President Roxas on signing of base agreement:14

I consider this a truly historic occasion. I have affixed my signature to an agreement which, I trust, for 99 years strengthens our national defense and assures the security of the Philippine Republic. Moreover, by thus cooperating with the United States in upholding the peace of the Pacific, I firmly believe that we assure the peace of the Pacific and our own safety simultaneously.

I do not, however, claim for this administration sole credit for this mighty culmination of our hopes and dreams. The signing of this pact today is a logical development of a policy which has been historically followed and supported by our people. Past administrations have implemented and given it vitality.

The Philippine Independence Act calls for military arrangements between the Philippines and the United States after independence. The wartime Government of the Commonwealth initiated and approved legislation which directed the specific negotiation of which this pact today is the happy result. The joint resolution of the United States Congress and the joint resolution of the Philippine Congress furnished the legal authority for this agreement. The President of the United States was authorized to establish these bases here. The President of the Philippines was authorized to negotiate for them.

I shall submit this agreement to the Senate for its ratification. The course of the negotiations, considering the tremendous import of the subject matter, has at all times been harmonious and agreeable. Many technical details had to be settled. Many strategic questions had to be decided. The Philippine Government successfully maintained and insisted on certain basic requirements, among them that no operating base should be established in or near a major center of population. The United States Government did not, at any point, show an unreasonable attitude even when agreement with our viewpoint required wholesale changes in military dispositions and plans preparations. To meet our objections, the United States Government radically revised its entire construction program in the Philippines. It modified entirely the physical plans which had been laid for the defense of the Philippines. No single aspect of this entire agreement has escaped drastic revision to meet our desires.

This Government has been fortunate in its negotiators. Vice President Quirino, in his capacity as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, was in complete charge of the negotiations and conducted them with a skill which did him great honor in this most difficult and technical arrangement. [Page 1109] He was ably and brilliantly assisted by a committee appointed by me which consisted of the best minds which could be brought to bear upon this subject. They all participated wholeheartedly in the negotiation and contributed in major measure to its success. The Secretary of National Defense, Mr. Kangleon, represented our military requirements. Secretary of Justice Ozaeta lent his legal talents to the discussion. Members of the general staff of the Philippine Army were regularly consulted. I designated as members of the committee four members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee all of whom took a direct and most vital part in the negotiation. Senator Francisco, Senator Sebastian, Senator Pandatum, and Senator Cabili, representing both political parties, lent the proceedings a completely nonpartisan spirit, as matters involving our broad national interests must necessarily reflect. I am grateful to all whom I have named.

The agreement, itself, does not contain the actual real estate descriptions of the base sites, although we have a general understanding that they will be worked out in all specific details in subsequent discussion, on the basis of surveys to be made jointly by technical representatives of both Governments.

I cannot, of course, pass over this occasion without mentioning the historic service rendered to us in connection with this agreement by United States Ambassador Paul V. McNutt. Mr. McNutt acted not only as representative of his Government in this negotiation, but, on a number of vital occasions, as our spokesman as well. He was able to undertake such a role, I know, because of the unique relations between our two countries, which, in every major matter makes our essential interests identical. On the eve of his departure from the Philippines, I wish to say how grateful our entire people are for the affection and devotion which Ambassador McNutt has shown in our cause in this and in other matters.

I am proud to participate in this important ceremony. I know it is a memorable day in our history. I hail on this occasion the indissoluble ties of mutual interests and respect which will forever bind the Philippines and the United States.

  1. The agreement between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines on military bases was signed at Manila, March 14, by Ambassador McNutt and President Roxas; Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series, No. 1775, or 61 Stat. (pt. 4) 4019. For Acting Secretary of State Acheson’s statement on March 14, see Department of State Bulletin, March 23, 1947, p. 554. The agreement was accepted by the United States on June 16 and by the Philippines on January 21, 1948.