No. 319
The Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Allison) to the Counselor of Embassy in the Philippines (Lacy)

eyes only

Dear Bill: I have now received your two letters of November 19, one of November 21 and one of November 24 regarding the developing Philippine situation.1 I wish to thank you on giving us this fine picture of such a fast moving and perplexing situation. I am particularly pleased although not surprised that the Ambassador and you are fully aware of the inherent dangers with which our Government is confronted in dealing with a situation of this kind. Your letters are being shown to Doc Matthews2 and probably also to David Bruce and I am, of course, also discussing them with Alex Johnson, Phil Bonsal and Temple Wanamaker.3

… We note from your letter of November 21 that you intend to continue communicating with us by letter because you believe “it would be very dangerous to telegraph this information for fear of leakage at this end or in Washington”. And we note further from yours of the 24th that you refer to “unsolved security problems which made the use of the telegraph system undesirable”. We assume that rapid steps are being taken to clear up what must be an extraordinary situation and that you will call upon us to the extent you think we can be of assistance.

. . . . . . .

We are taking prompt steps to have your position about Vagnozzi placed before Cardinal Spellman.4 We have not yet exactly determined [Page 514] the channel which we will use but I can assure that this will be done on an urgent basis.

With regard to the matter of “sanctuary” I am sure that you are aware of our Government’s long term policy in this matter.5 We have consistently refused to subscribe to the sort of political asylum which is in vogue among some of the South American countries. Paragraph 225.2 of the Foreign Service Regulations entitled “Restrictions on Extending Asylum” reads as follows:

“As a rule, a diplomatic or consular officer shall not extend asylum to persons outside of his official or personal household. Refuge may be afforded to uninvited fugitives whose lives are in imminent danger from mob violence but only for the period during which active danger continues. Refuge shall be refused to persons fleeing from legitimate agents of the local government. In case such persons have been admitted to the diplomatic or consular premises, they must be surrendered or dismissed from such mission or consular office.”

This general rule has on occasion been stretched particularly in the case of persons fleeing from Communists or from excessively dictatorial governments but the exceptions have been very rare.

At any time that you believe it would be helpful to you or to us, we would be glad to have the Ambassador or yourself called back here on consultation.

We are continuing to give careful thought to your valuable letters. This is to be considered merely as an interim reply to let you know that we have received them and to raise certain urgent points with you. We are all following developments in Manila with the greatest interest and with the greatest confidence in your moderation and prudence as well as in your judgment of the limits to what our brains and influence can realistically expect to achieve in the local situation. We note and we are sure that you have also that practically all our information seems to come from only one source.

We fully share your reservations about Magsaysay’s arrangements with the Nacionalistas and his connection with Tony Quirino.6

[Page 515]

With warm regards,


John M. Allison

P.S. We are asking … with you as soon as he arrives for purposes of orientation. With the pointers you will give him he will, we assume, be able to embark upon a broad investigation of this entire affair. J.M.A.

  1. None printed. (796.00/11–1951, 796.00/11–2151, and 796.00/11–2451)
  2. H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Under Secretary of State.
  3. Officer in Charge of Philippine Affairs in the Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs.
  4. In one of his two letters of Nov. 19, Lacy asked that Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, be approached with the purpose of having him contact the Vatican in order to make known the wishes of the U.S. Government that Egidio Vagnozzi, Papal Nuncio in the Philippines, be allowed to remain in Manila at least until after the 1953 elections. Monsignor Vagnozzi informed Ambassador Spruance and Lacy that he thought Cardinal Spellman routinely forwarded to the Vatican a memorandum, emanating from President Quirino, expressing Philippine interest in Vagnozzi’s recall. Now Vagnozzi wished that Spellman be asked to indicate that he, Spellman, did not favor Vagnozzi’s recall.

    In his letter, Lacy characterized Monsignor Vagnozzi as a staunch friend of the United States and a strong supporter of free elections in the Philippines. (796.00/111952)

  5. In his letter of Nov. 24, Lacy said that Spruance offered sanctuary to Magsaysay if he needed it, while Lacy offered sanctuary for Magsaysay’s wife and children. The offers were made in the light of reports from Magsaysay that President Quirino planned to kill or imprison him. (796.00/11–2152; 796.00/11–2452)
  6. In the Nov. 21 letter, Lacy said that Magsaysay informed him and Spruance that Antonio Quirino, brother of the President, had assured Magsaysay of his support. Both Spruance and Lacy were uneasy about this, and the Ambassador had also expressed to Magsaysay his doubts about the honesty of purpose of the Nacionalista leaders in supporting him or their willingness to carry out Magsaysay’s program for the country. (796.00/11–2152)