Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President1

Subject: Proposed American Economic Mission to the Philippines.

You will recall that during the course of your conversation with President Quirino last February, he suggested the possibility of an American Economic Mission in the Philippines to study the economic situation, to make recommendations on measures of self-help which [Page 1457] should be taken by the Philippine Government, and further, to make recommendations on ways and means in which the United States could be helpful. You expressed your sympathy with this suggestion, and directed Ambassador Cowen to pursue the matter with President Quirino.2

President Quirino, following his return to Manila, announced that a Joint Philippine-American Mission would be established. It appears that he made this change because of his fears of what a solely American Mission might expose concerning the limitations and malfeasance of his administration which would damage his political position. Ambassador Cowen was instructed by the Department to discuss this matter with President Quirino, pointing out to him the agreement with you on a solely American Mission, as well as the fact that a Commission composed of Filipinos and Americans would find it difficult, if not impossible, to prepare a report which all members could sign, since the Philippine members would certainly wish some assurance of financial assistance which only the Congress of the United States is qualified to give, and the American members would wish to include comments and suggestions on the deficiencies of the Philippine Government which the Philippine members, because of their own internal political positions, would be unable to sign. In his discussions with Ambassador Cowen, President Quirino continued to waver on the question of a Joint Mission, although in his public statements he persisted in referring to a Joint Mission, despite the Ambassador’s renewed assurance that the United States was not interested in a Joint Mission. We are firmly convinced that any withdrawal from this position would have most unfortunate consequences by persuading President Quirino that if he kept at it long enough and maneuvered sufficiently, he could always have his own way with the United States on any question.

In the meantime, political and economic conditions in the Philippines have continued to deteriorate at an alarming rate. We believe the time has come to take action to break this unfortunate impasse in Philippine-American relations, lest we find ourselves suddenly in a position where we would have to take drastic and unpleasant actions to save the Philippine Government from its own mistakes. As a first step, we must force President Quirino to make up his mind one way or another in writing about the Economic Mission. It is recommended that you authorize Ambassador Cowen to deliver the attached letter from you to President Quirino.3

Dean Acheson
  1. According to a memorandum by the Secretary of State, the proposed United States economic mission to the Philippines was one of the matters taken up with President Truman during their meeting on June 1. The President recalled very clearly his discussion with President Quirino on this subject in February. The President reviewed the memorandum printed here and approved the letter to President Quirino. (Executive Secretariat Files: Lot 52D444: Secretary’s Meetings with the President)

    This memorandum was drafted by John F. Melby and was recommended to the Secretary of State by Assistant Secretary of State Rusk on May 31.

  2. Regarding President Truman’s meeting with President Quirino on February 4, see the Secretary of State’s memorandum of conversation, p. 1412.
  3. For President Truman’s letter to President Quirino as approved without change by the President and ordered delivered on June 1, see infra.