796.5/1–551: Telegram

The Chargé2 in the Philippines (Chapin) to the Secretary of State


1880. January 4. Two officers Embassy morning January 4 discussed at length with General Hobbs3 current Philippine military reorganization (Deptels 1331 January 2 and 1348 January 4 Embtel 1864 January 3 and WAR 80017 to JUSMAG4).

General Hobbs expressed views paraphrased as follows:

Recent personnel changes5 indicate either that Romulo did not accurately convey, or that Quirino has not seen fit to act upon, US Secretary Defense advice6 that Philippine Government’s pressing need is strong, competent, nonpolitical military leadership (this connection, see my reftel). President should have made clean sweep at top and reached well-down for new set military leaders, but JUSMAG’s suggestion to that effect was not treated as being, for [Page 1492] present at least, practicable of adoption. Castaneda, of whom JUSMAG is personally fond, had yielded to opportunities for personal enrichment and had turned deaf ear to JUSMAG’s pleading that he cooperate with new Secretary Defense. Since the arrival in Philippines of present JUSMAG, Ramos—beyond protecting perpetrators of abuses and taking care of himself—has done nothing but draw his breath and his salary.

Vice Chief of Staff Duque promises that as Acting Chief of Staff he will uncover and correct abuses in armed forces; it is devoutly to be hoped he will actually do so. New post of Deputy Chief of Staff is very strategic one as there are to be placed directly under officer holding that post the general, special, administrative and technical staffs and services (his duties more truly comprise staff functions than do those of the Chief of Staff and Vice Chief of Staff, the new titles of the commanding general and deputy commanding general). Colonel Velasquez, a candidate for the post, is a West Post graduate and is regarded as an able officer, but it appears the President does not completely trust him.7 Colonel Selga, the new Philippine Constabulary commander, was reasonably competent as Commanding Officer of the Second Military Area; he is no stooge of Ramos, but people may be expected to question the extent of his authority since the President has seen fit to move Ramos into his own office as adviser on police affairs. The men being selected to head divisions G–1 through G–4 are young and perhaps as good as might have been picked—but only time will indicate whether they meet the test.

The assignment of Castaneda, a discredited general, to mission proceeding US must be considered in light Quirino’s problem of removing him from local scene. While it is anything but clear-cut personnel action, it appears represent furthest step toward solution problem that Quirino is now willing to take. Magsaysay is earnest, hardworking and effective Secretary National Defense but can push Quirino only up to certain limit. Whether Magsaysay’s opposition will break him, and whether Quirino will retire Castaneda before end 1951, remain be seen. As to his mission, Castaneda personally does not know facts which he needs have at his command for Washington mission and has not come to JUSMAG to get information which JUSMAG might be able give him. As matter fact, Philippine Government badly needs delivery military matériel now rather than in distant future when deliveries of items such as motor vehicles are scheduled. However, as Romulo was informed, Philippine Government should transmit specific requests through appropriate channels.

  1. As 1951 began Ambassador Myron M. Cowen was in Washington.
  2. Maj. Gen. Leland S. Hobbs, Chief Adviser of the Joint United States Military Advisory Group to the Republic of the Philippines.
  3. None printed.
  4. Within the previous week President Elpidio Quirino had relieved Maj. Gen. Mariano N. Castaneda from active duty as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), although the General retained his title, and had designated Brig. Gen. Calixto Duque as Acting Chief of Staff. On January 10 General Castaneda left the Philippines for Washington with Carlos P. Romulo, Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs, as a member of the Secretary’s special mission to discuss increased arms aid for the Philippines. In despatch 1208 from Manila, February 19, the Embassy stated in part that it had been “reliably” reported that the General had been sent on the mission to facilitate his complete removal as head of the AFP. (796.5–MAP/2–1951) General Castaneda entered on terminal leave May 26.

    President Quirino had also recently relieved Brig. Gen. Alberto Ramos from his post as Chief of the Philippine Constabulary and had appointed Col. Florencio Selga as Acting Chief. Colonel Selga was promoted to Brigadier General and made Chief of the Constabulary during the last week Of May 1951.

    On January 7 President Quirino appointed General Ramos to be Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). However, General Ramos began an extended leave of absence from this post on May 5.

  5. See the memorandum of conversation dated January 22, p. 1504.
  6. Colonel Velasquez did not accept the post.