896.00/5–650: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State 1 to the Embassy in the Philippines

top secret

809. Eyes only for the Ambassador from Rusk. I have read your recent tels2 with great interest and have impression your observations confirm previous estimate discussed in Wash. Before taking up question of action we should take in near future, I would appreciate your full views on present polit situation and steps you think might be effective. I realize you are confronted with problem of greatest difficulty and delicacy in having to assess what is in the minds of leading Philippine parsonages while having to maintain complete diplomatic correctness in your relations and discussions with them. Certain new factors may have entered picture. For example, apparently Romulo has indicated that he is shortly to become FonMin. Does that offer any opportunity for a fresh approach? If Quirino’s health is in serious state or if he has now become genuinely frightened over situation, perhaps new opportunities suggest themselves for getting him to strengthen his top administration.

We should shortly reach some conclusion of idea of calling upon Senator Tydings to visit Manila and survey the situation. Before doing so, however, I want to be absolutely certain that you and I [Page 1445]have full meeting of minds not only because you face extremely difficult situation there but because you have full confidence of Wash.

Please mark your reply eyes alone for me. Cordial regards.

Webb
  1. Secretary of State Acheson had departed for Europe to attend a conference with the British and French Foreign Ministers and to participate in a session of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Council.
  2. In his telegram 1197, April 26, from Manila, not printed, Ambassador Cowen, who returned to his post on April 24, reported that dissatisfaction with President Quirino’s administration was unquestionably widespread and that he was losing support daily. Cowen doubted that Quirino could currently be impeached, but he felt that Quirino’s opponents might be able to force his resignation in the event of a major crisis (796.00/4–2650). In his telegram 1228, April 28, from Manila, not printed, Ambassador Cowen said he had been informed that some of Quirino’s former supporters were talking in terms of advising that he take a vacation abroad for a period of 6 months or a year in the interest of his health and that he turn over responsibility during his absence to Vice President Lopez. Cowen believed that efforts by Quirino’s own party to force him out of office had a maximum chance of success during the current session of the Philippine Congress due to adjourn on May 18. Cowen observed: “In meantime I believe we should leave hands off.” (796.00/4–2850) In his telegram 1277, May 4, from Manila, not printed, Ambassador Cowen reported that he had seen Quirino on April 28 and 29. Cowen’s impression was that Quirino’s health had declined substantially. Quirino told Cowen that he had been in so much pain several weeks earlier that he had contemplated suicide, but electrotherapy had brought about much improvement (796.11/5–450).