896.00/5–650: Telegram

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

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1310. Embtels 842, March 22,1 862, March 24,2 891, March 28,3 Deptels 503, March 25 [24] and 792, May 4.4 Assumption that I never promised Quirino additional US aid would be forthcoming on condition he agreed US rather than joint mission is entirely correct. In effort minimize likelihood my statements in conversations this subject with various Philippine Government officials might be misrepresented, I whenever possible had Chapin present, but obviously that precaution has not sufficed prevent Quirino’s making false assertions on subject.

I have delayed perhaps overlong reporting conversation we had on this subject April 29 pending some clarification political situation which might have permitted me at same time make related recommendations re advisability our sending mission. For Department’s information there is now supplied following background re our previous discussions, résumé our April 29 conversation and report certain subsequent developments:

In long difficult talk with Quirino evening March 26 (reftel March 28) I fully apprised him contents Deptel March 25 [24] particularly emphasizing that “even though it were clearly announced such mission report would be only recommendations it would almost inevitably be interpreted something in nature of binding commitment on US. We are not prepared authorize US members sign any such undertaking”. I also emphasized statement that “US attaches great importance this mission as most appropriate means determine merits any specific proposal which might subsequently arise”. Quirino during discussions on this subject subsequent his return from Washington had repeatedly expressed fear that end result of American mission would be criticism rather than help and frequently voiced resentment [Page 1446] unproductive visits International Bank and Monetary Fund representatives. I had met these expressions misgiving with assurances continuing deep US interest Philippines and statement I would personally recommend further aid upon creation by Philippine Government of proper foundation for such aid, i.e. budget, increased taxation, more effective tax collection, betterment peace order situation and so forth. During course March 26 talk Quirino asked me for commitment in writing similar one more recently requested from Secretary of State which I of course declined supply telling him again per reftel March 25 that if he was “not prepared accept American integrity and good faith this matter at face value” he might prefer leave matter of economic mission in abeyance.

As I reported orally during my last visit Washington, when Quirino and I discussed mission March 26 just prior my departure he had emotional outburst during which he said, “bring me back my happiness (i.e. arrange while in Washington that mission be joint one) or don’t come back at all”. I had not expected him revert to this theme as Secretary Lovina informed me afternoon April 29 that Quirino was prepared accept American mission. That evening when I first saw Quirino after my return his greeting was “did you bring me back my happiness?” Nevertheless he stated we could send as many missions as we liked if their primary purpose would be to aid rather than to investigate and criticize.

While José Yulo, who had been designated Philippine Government representative, had told me he would not wish serve on any but joint mission, I assumed he might be influenced by Quirino’s apparent change of face. I accordingly arranged with him appointment discuss matter May 3. He did not keep appointment or return subsequent phone calls. I was puzzled, as our relations have been very friendly, until Vice President Lopez informed me later that day that Elizalde had May 2 informed Quirino by telephone that US would not at this time extend grant aid to Philippines. I would tentatively conclude Yulo’s unavailability indicate Quirino, against background Elizalde’s message, is now unwilling receive American as opposed to joint mission.

  1. Not printed, but see footnote 2 to telegram 503, March 24, to Manila, p. 1425.
  2. Not printed, but see footnote 4 to telegram 503, March 24, to Manila, p. 1427.
  3. Not printed, but see footnote 3 to telegram 503 to Manila, p. 1426.
  4. Not printed. It stated that Philippine Ambassador Elizalde had informed the Department of State of a recent telephone conversation he had with President Quirino. Quirino stated that during a conversation with Ambassador Cowen, Cowen had told him in effect that if the Philippines accepted a United States economic mission, it would be followed by a United States grant of assistance (896.00/5–450).