896.00/5–850: Telegram

[Extracts]

The Ambassador in the Philippines (Cowen) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Rusk)

top secret

1315. Eyes alone Rusk. Unquestionably Quirino’s prestige and support both within and outside Congress are at lowest ebb since he became [Page 1447]President. While Romulo has personality of great force and persuasiveness, we doubt he could dominate President in domestic sphere sufficiently arrest current deterioration even should Quirino make him Foreign Minister which is far from certain—particularly as force his personality and ambition would make him person uncomfortable for President have constantly at his elbow. While President has manifested intelligence sufficient survive past intrigues and political maneuvers he seldom devotes that intelligence to higher problem of building a state which can survive the internal Communist opposition which does not play politics on his accustomed plane. That opposition evidently seems to him the less immediate danger to his position also it does not appear to have frightened him into a truly sobered attitude. Were he to forget his personal position and begin acting for the good of the nation he might largely disarm both types of his opposition but we doubt he has the integrity to appreciate that fact.

[In the portion of the telegram omitted here, Ambassador Cowen reviewed the situation within the Philippine House of Representatives and Senate which led him to the conclusion that any effort to impeach President Quirino during the current session of Congress was unlikely. Cowen summarized rumors and impressions leading him to feel that some of Quirino’s. Liberal Party opponents were still actively seeking some means of forcing him out of office.]

Insofar as overt action by United States is concerned, we are faced by an apparent paradox: (1) Quirino was returned to office in part because he convinced many Filipinos that he was particularly persona grata to United States; (2) United States dictation that he withdraw would be widely interpreted as outside interference in a family quarrel. We do not believe that an ultimatum from United States privately given would cause him relax his hand; made publicly it might well bring him some sympathy and support he now does not enjoy. However, were Tydings privately to convey to Vice President Lopez or perhaps Senator Cabili1 information that we consider further aid would be wasted so long as Quirino remains in power but would be glad re-examine situation were Vice President to succeed to presidency we believe result probably would be to encourage efforts for showdown. In order make Tydings visit as casual in appearance as possible it might be well in view his status Chairman Armed Services Committee have him make well-publicized trip Tokyo with Secretary of Defense Johnson on trip understand tentatively planned for June and then accompany latter Manila where Secretary of Defense hopes pay visit. This could be natural sequence recent trip Tydings to Hague with Secretary of Defense.

We appreciate confidence expressed reference telegrams but will welcome your weighing wisdom line action suggested from Department’s [Page 1448]perspective and against accumulated Philippine experience officers now in Department.2

Cowen
  1. Tomas Cabili, Speaker of the Philippine Senate
  2. There was no reply to this telegram.