No. 325
Memorandum for the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Allison)

top secret


  • Report, dated 15 December 1952, on current Political Situation in the Republic of the Philippines1


  • Memorandum to the Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs, Department of State, dated 5 December 1952 …

1. The committee described in the second part of the referenced memorandum has submitted the following appraisal of the current political situation in the Republic of the Philippines. It was requested that the report be disseminated only to Mr. Allison and if Mr. Allison desires to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.…

“Following committees appraisal current situation.…

“Filipinos are facing election year 1953 with uneasiness, apprehension, and already considerable pressure tension generated. Most important single fact is determination Quirino run again; he has announced his draftability publicly, and most his actions seem designed assist his re-election. This committee has reason suspect Quirino might go any length in rigging elections, including use martial law, subversion of army and police, and even assassination, if sufficiently roused. Generally agreed among politicos, journalists and others that widespread bloodshed inevitable result rigged elections. Nats even opine bloodshed will result re-election Quirino, honest election or no.

“Other important ingredients present situation are:

Popularity of Magsaysay with people and their conviction he working honestly for good country;
Fear Quirino will again steal elections; therefore “free and honest elections” already campaign issue;
Position U.S. with these two issues; general conviction that successful party will be that which able assure people it alone can obtain U.S. aid, support.

“Quirino tried in October induce Magsaysay join his ticket as vice president but project failed materialize for following chief reasons:

Magsaysay imposed conditions of free elections, economic and administrative reforms which Quirino unwilling accept;
Magsaysay hesitant over accepting secondary position this early when possibility remained his running as president;
Magsaysay fearful that as v.p. he would be relegated by Quirino to minor position and deprived control of Army, source Magsaysay’s power and popularity;
Difficult for Quirino accept anyone in his coterie who has sufficient stature threaten his own position;
In making deal with Quirino, Magsaysay would be forced into alliance with Perez and Liberal Party machine; Perez and Magsaysay are highly antagonistic and Magsaysay would find association with Perez almost unbearable. In this connection political power of Perez enormous, and importance him and his cronies to Quirino re-election aspirations difficult overemphasize.

“Magsaysay thereupon entered negotiations with Laurel and Nacionalistas and signed compact to run as president on Nacionalista ticket as described. This still secret although Weekly Free Press hinted strongly its possibility and Quirino presumably aware its existence. In Making such compact Nacionalistas divorced Magsaysay from Quirino, and neatly prevented Quirino Magsaysay ticket which they would find difficult to beat even with free, honest elections. Now that they have captured Magsaysay, their chances defeating Quirino considerably increased. They must of course keep alive slogan “free and honest elections” not only for their own protection but also because that one condition on which Magsaysay would run. Moreover, generally believed that U.S., while probably favoring Magsaysay, would not give sanction any campaign unless based on free elections.

“In this connection, we point out immense propaganda value to HMB of crooked elections, enabling that organization attract adherents by pointing out venality and lack integrity in Philippine Govt which resorts to corrupt and immoral practices; conversely, there is evidence that clean elections 1951 hurt cause HMB by increasing confidence people in orderly democratic processes of Phil Govt.

“Attitude of U.S. re any candidate or issue highly important in Philippine mind, and U.S. granting or withdrawing support might easily determine result election. Accordingly plans for U.S. tactics in Philippines for next year must be drawn up in realization that in serving interests U.S. our actions will profoundly affect future Philippines as well.

“Axiomatic to state that politically stable and economically sound Philippines necessary to interest U.S. with particular reference containment Communism and throwing back Soviet aggression. Philippines now on way to sound economy but many urgently needed reforms and administrative improvements blocked by Quirino for reasons political advancement rather than welfare country. Politically country in disturbed state, with people largely convinced government venal and corrupt and determined remain in power even by stealing election. Laurel and Nacionalistas of course play this up, demand assurances of free elections, and publicly assert that re-election Quirino regardless conduct of elections will cause revolution bloodshed. We inclined believe this possible, having in mind so called Batangas Revolt following 49 election steal by Quirino.

[Page 525]

“From standpoint U.S., re-election Quirino would be bad, not only because political stability would be upset but also because Quirino not inclined push steps recommended in Bell report and agreed to in Foster–Quirino agreement. While election Laurel and Nacionalistas might improve atmosphere for a while, we are not optimistic that he would for long lead government in direction honesty, efficiency and reform.

“On political horizon at present Magsaysay only figure with qualities desirable from U.S. standpoint who has even remote chance election as president. Even he could not accomplish this without backing of party machine, hence his alliance with Nats necessary although distasteful to U.S. At moment he is sole hope for real progress toward desired U.S. goals in forthcoming elections. He now has no adherents of his own and would have to rely on Nat appointees as well as political backing.

. . . . . . .

  1. Not printed. (796.00/12–1552)