796.5/3–650: Telegram

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


674. At January 21 luncheon given by members Philippine Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees in honor Jessup,1 Representative Atienza2 charged US with failure deliver more than 30 percent [Page 1418] of total US military assistance commitment. Despite closed door meeting, this charge widely aired local press. Similar complaint made to Butterworth3 by Senator Peralta4 in meeting with Vice President and guerilla leaders along lines his address Senate February 1.

In attempt quell these misleading and irresponsible statements, I issued February 10 press release giving details extent military aid furnished based on report supplied Embassy by JUSMAG.5

March 4 papers again carried stories statements attributed Atienza, Secretary Defense Kangleon and Cofs Castanada6 to effect US had “welched” on military aid to Philippines. For example, Atienza reported in Manila Times as having stated Philippines had been “hoodwinked” by US Government in military assistance furnished.

March 4 I issued statement for immediate release deploring such tactics on part high government officials. Text both February 10 and later statements passed to Department attention Melby today in clear by press attache.

I believe that irresponsible and unfounded statements such as above by Philippine Government officials highly damaging to Philippines. Atienza has congressional record of frequent criticism of US in connection matter of military assistance and military bases. As reported Embdesp 268, March 10, 1949,7 he last year made speech urging “more prudence” in Philippine attitude toward Communism.

Full report with clippings follows by despatch.8

  1. Ambassador at Large Philip C. Jessup was visiting the Philippines in the course of a 3-month fact-finding survey of the Far East.
  2. Philippine Congressman Hermenegildo Atienza, member of the House Foreign Relations Committee.
  3. Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs Butterworth visited Manila briefly in early February en route to the Asian Chiefs of Mission conference in Bangkok.
  4. Philippine Senator Macario Peralta, Jr., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army and Navy.
  5. The Embassy press release under reference here, which was prepared on the basis of information provided by Maj. Gen. Jonathan Anderson, Chief of the Joint United States Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG), was widely disseminated in the Manila press. It explained that the United States had furnished the Philippines military assistance worth over $163 million and had sent over 600 members of the Philippine armed forces to American service schools since 1947. The press release asserted that the United States had faithfully fulfilled all commitments under military assistance agreements with the Philippines.
  6. The reference here is to Philippine Secretary of National Defense Ruperto Kangleon and Philippine Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mariano N. Castañeda.
  7. Not printed.
  8. Despatch No. 317, March 10, from Manila, not printed (796.5 MAP/3–1050).