896.00/3–2450: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Philippines 1


503. Ur 842.2 Dept gravely concerned over what appears to be calculated effort by PhilGovt by indirection, obfuscation and inspired press [Page 1426] campaign to secure its objective of a Joint Mission. Understandably such effort in part motivated by over-sensitiveness on question sovereignty, but must also be equally dictated by Pres Quirino’s own personal polit ambitions. In view well-known reluctance on part even closest advisers Quirino to tell him unpleasant truths or what they think he does not want to hear, Dept believes henceforth you shld conduct negot on this question directly with him in order avoid further confusion this issue which wld only play into his hands.

You shld therefore seek earliest opportunity for full and frank discussion this question with Pres Quirino. You are of course aware main argument underlying Dept insistence Mission must be solely Amer. Additionally, Dept doubts that any man of necessary caliber wld be prepared accept this assignment on Joint Mission basis since any joint report wld necessarily require compromise on views and recommendations both participants. Particularly, many recommendations US wld hope Amer Mission wld make for Phil action cld not be signed by Phil members of a Joint Mission for polit reasons. Even though it were clearly announced such Mission report wld be only recommendations it wld almost inevitably be interpreted something in nature of binding commitment on US. We are not prepared authorize US members sign any such undertaking. Dept fully convinced Phil interests will best be served by frank and honest report which can be free restrictions or inhibitions which presence of Filipino members and their necessary attention to internal Phil political considerations wld impose. Impress on Quirino, however, that Mission wld expect and welcome fullest cooperation from any group PhilGovt designates this purpose and wld be prepared evaluate and submit to US any recommendations and suggestions this group might care to make. If foregoing and other arguments fail convince Pres Quirino and if he not prepared accept Amer integrity and good faith this matter at their face value, you may tactfully suggest Pres Quirino that since US convinced objectives we both desire cannot be achieved by joint mission and if he finds Amer ideas unacceptable perhaps he would prefer to leave question Economic Mission in abeyance. You shld also let it be known US attaches great importance this Mission as most appropriate means determining how US can be helpful and that without the kind of survey and recommendations proposed US wld be seriously hampered in determining merits any specific proposal which might subsequently arise.3

Dept questions wisdom of statement this time such as you propose [Page 1427] until you have had opportunity talking with Quirino. Such a statement might only tend to crystalize Phil obstinancy to point where withdrawal wld be difficult if not impossible.

Re your 862, Mar 24,4 Dept wld certainly have no objection any Comm which Phil Govt might desire to appoint cooperate with Amer Mission and wld of course welcome such coop as essential success of Mission. Foregoing objections, however, apply to suggestion that as much of report as possible be joint one. Any such arrangement wld only serve to accentuate differences which wld exist possibly out of proportion to their intrinsic merits.

  1. A memorandum of March 24 by Assistant Secretary of State Butterworth, not printed, states that the Secretary of State and Deputy Under Secretary of state Dean Rusk had approved the substance of this message (896.00/3–2450).
  2. Not printed. It reported that Ambassador Cowen had conferred with Philippine Secretary of Finance Pedrosa and Presidential Advisor Yulo regarding the proposed American economic mission to the Philippines. Cowen reaffirmed the American position that President Truman had proposed a strictly American mission. The Philippine officials indicated that they and President Quirino insisted upon a joint United States–Philippine mission. Cowen concluded his telegram with a suggestion that the Secretary of State or the White House issue a public statement explaining that the idea of a proposed economic mission was in abeyance pending Department of State study of Philippine conceptions of such a mission (896.00/3–2250).
  3. In his telegram 891, March 28, from Manila, not printed, Ambassador Cowen reported that in conversation with President Quirino on the evening of March 26 he had conveyed the substance of the argument outlined-here. Quirino wept but refused to alter his position. Quirino chided the United States for its lack of confidence in him and said he would prefer to “see his country sink into the depths rather than become a mendicant for American aid” (896.00/3–2850).
  4. Not printed. In it Ambassador Cowen reported a new Philippine proposal with the following points: (1) the United States would send an economic mission with terms of reference clearly established; (2) there would be established a Philippine mission with identical terms of reference; (3) both missions would work concurrently with a point of liaison at the chairman level; (4) to the extent that was possible, a combined report would be submitted to each government and those issues on which no agreement was possible would be the subject of separate reports. Cowen felt the proposal had considerable merit (896.00/3–2450).