Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Philippine Affairs (Ely)1


Subject: Matters taken up on the occasion of President Quirino’s call on President Truman at 3:15 p. m. on August 9, 1949.

Participants: President Truman
President Quirino
Secretary Acheson
Ambassador J. M. Elizalde
Secretary of Finance
P. O. Pedrosa
Mr. José Yulo
Ambassador Cowen

(The following brief resume of matters which were discussed is based on notes and verbal report by Ambassador Cowen.)

President Truman brought up the question of the financial budgetary situation of the Philippine Government, making reference to the report of the Joint Philippine-American Finance Commission, and inquired as to the progress being made by the Philippine Government in implementing the recommendations of the Commission. He made it clear that this government was somewhat concerned at the future outlook of the Philippine Government and their ability to get their finances and currency on a sound and stable basis. Secretary Pedrosa replied for President Quirino indicating that they were aware of the importance of this question and were trying to do everything possible to get their financial house in order.

There was some discussion of the peace and order situation throughout the country generally but with specific reference to the area around Clark Field and the so-called Huk territory in central Luzon. President Quirino was informed that this government was concerned that the military authorities were compelled to take unusual precautions to try to protect their personnel at Clark Field. President Quirino stated in reply that they were rapidly bringing the Huk movement under control; that the number of these people who had been involved [Page 598] in the Huk movement had been cut down to a point where they were no longer a source of worry.

Presidents Quirino raised the question of possible additional benefits for Philippine veterans, reminding President Truman that he (President Truman) had previously endorsed certain legislation upon which Congress had failed to take action. President Truman confirmed this, saying that he had been strongly in sympathy with this proposal but that he had not been able to get Congress to take favorable action, and he made no commitment that he would undertake to try to do so again.

President Quirino also raised the question as to the possibility of further recognition of (Philippine guerrilas but President Truman told him definitely that this matter had been carefully considered and the issue was closed as far as the United States was concerned. President Quirino then asked Prudent Truman not to make a public statement to that effect as he (President Quirino) had appointed a board to make a study of the problem and that the Philippine Government might undertake to do something for the guerrillas with its own resources.

President Quirino and the members of his staff then brought up a new question which had not been anticipated. They referred to an executive order issued by the Philippine Government during the war relating to pay of Filipino soldiers which was apparently intended to fix pay scales of Filipino soldiers on a par with American troops. As Army refused to accept, this order was never implemented and the Philippine Government now wishes to reopen the question. The matter was discussed only briefly, with no encouragement given by President Truman.

President Quirino made a strong plea for military assistance and for the appropriation of further funds for the payment of war damages, arguing that the United States Government, by public announcements early in the war, had a commitment particularly on the War damage question. President Truman was noncommittal on both questions, saying that they were still under consideration but he remarked that on any such programs involving expenditure of additional United States’ funds it was a cause of concern that this money would be largely wasted unless the Philippine Government put its financial house in order. It was at this point that President Quirino countered with the argument that the United States was committed on these two matters.

President Quirino raised the question of the extent to which the Philippines might expect to participate in the Point Font program and President Truman explained what his original concept of the [Page 599] Point Four program was but that he could not at this time tell President Quirino what the United States would be able to do.

President Quirino brought up the question of the appropriation of 23.8 million dollars authorized to be appropriated in 1934 to reimburse the Philippine Government for losses arising from the devaluation of the dollar, again taking the position that this government had an obligation to make this money available. President Truman remarked that he remembered the debates on this question in the Senate and referred particularly to strong opposition by the late Senator Glass of Virginia, intimating that he thought there might be opposition in Congress to taking any action on the question, but he threw out the suggestion that the Philippine Government might wish to try to offset this claim against funds owed to the United States and Secretary Pedrosa said that they had had the same idea.

  1. Notation about August 17 by the Secretary of State: “I think that it is correct as written. DA.”