Memorandum for the Assistant Secretary
of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Allison)
Washington , 5 December 1952.
. . . . . . .
- In considering the current secret agreement between Magsaysay,
Laurel, Tanada, Recto, et al., and the possibility of Quirino’s
reaction thereto, Lacy makes the following analysis …:
- For some time, various leaders of the Nacionalista Party have been querying the Ambassador and Lacy about U.S. intentions regarding clean elections. At a recent get-together at Laurel’s home with Lacy in attendance, this was the main subject and was treated with much intensity. Lacy and the Ambassador have been emphatic in their statements that the U.S. will completely back clean elections and make every contribution consistent with Philippine sovereignty to this end.
- Receiving this strong answer, the Nacionalistas are convinced that clean elections are highly probable and in clean elections they could not defeat a Liberal–Quirino ticket which included Magsaysay as vice president. Therefore, their strategy is to divorce Quirino and Magsaysay and bring Magsaysay into their fold to capitalize on his immense popularity and the prospect of U.S. support, which they believe would otherwise be given the Liberal–Quirino team. In regard to this, Spruance agrees with the strategy of divorce, but also believes that the Nacionalistas may drop Magsaysay some time between now and the November elections; and without either political machine behind him, his chances for presidential election are dim. The Nacionalistas believe, moreover, that Quirino is convinced that he cannot win in a free election.
- Concerning allegations that Quirino will use martial law, jail opposition, etc., and the possibility that knowledge of the Magsaysay tie-up with the Nacionalistas would precipitate this action in the near future, Lacy believes that Quirino is capable of doing this but is reluctant unless he becomes hysterical. Lacy also advances [Page 516] the theory that Quirino, in a “cornered rat” position, hemmed in by probable honest elections with U.S. backing, a poor administration record, and a strong political combine, will become sufficiently desperate and, as a result, take this irrational, reckless step. He uses as a precedent Quirino’s “surrounding the Senate with tanks and soldiers in the 1949 elections”.
- There are two points that Lacy desires to emphasize:
- It is highly probable that Quirino believes, on the basis of the history of U.S.-Philippine relations, that the U.S. will take no positive action in the event that Quirino takes this untoward act. It is most necessary that the U.S. be ready to take the strongest measures including cessation of all aid if necessary. This should be made clear to Quirino privately in the near future. The Ambassador concurs. This could be done after the situation is publicized as planned.
- The Ambassador and Lacy are keenly aware of the high degree of sensitivity of any action on their part in this matter and will act accordingly to preclude any possibility of a repetition of the “Braden affair”.1
- The general situation today is perceptibly calmer due to Magsaysay’s hospitalization and the unlikelihood of Quirino’s taking drastic action against a convalescent.
- Lopez2 must be considered serious yet undetermined force.
- During the Lacy, Becker, Broe conference,3 Becker stressed the value of coordinated reports from various U.S. Government sources in attempting to evaluate this sensitive situation. Lacy evinced great interest in the idea.
- As a result of the above, Lacy appointed a committee for the purpose of preparing joint appraisals of the local hectic political situation as circumstances dictate.
- The committee consists of Lacy, Benninghoff,4 who is now chief of the political section, Holt, senior military attaché,5 and William V. Broe,6 as well as Col. Edward Lansdale.7 A single joint report was prepared for … Allison.8 Allison is expected to pass it [Page 517] to JCS. Holt is not reporting to the military as he is of the opinion that receipt by JCS fulfills his responsibility.
- The first meeting was held 3 December. A report is being prepared.
. . . . . . .
- Reference is to Spruille Braden, Ambassador to Argentina in 1945, and Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs, 1945–1947, who clashed with Juan Perόn, President of Argentina.↩
- Fernando Lopez, Vice President of the Philippines.↩
- No record of this conference has been found in Department of State files.↩
- H. Merrell Benninghoff, Counselor of Embassy in Manila.↩
- Capt. Walter C. Holt, Naval Attaché at the Embassy in Manila.↩
- Attaché at the Embassy in Manila.↩
- Colonel Lansdale was attached to JUSMAG in the Philippines.↩
- See Document 325.↩