796.00/12–3152: Telegram

No. 326
The Ambassador in the Philippines (Spruance) to the Department of State

top secret

1907. No distribution. Eyes only Allison. Magsaysay called on Lacy at 11:30 a.m. December 30. He said Nacionalistas now proposed to nominate him in convention to be called for March 1. By then he would, of course, have resigned from Quirino’s Cabinet. Referring to his desire to make a clean break and “get this all over” Magsaysay said that he was about to suggest to Nacionalistas desirability holding convention February 1. He asked Lacy’s reaction. Lacy emphasized as this Embassy has so often done in the past the importance of decelerating these political developments, of Magsaysay’s maintaining a free and favorable position in respect to the political evolution and of Magsaysay’s continuing to emphasize throughout the Philippines his determination to carry out his program e.g., free elections, reforming government, land program, etc. Magsaysay replied that, in any event, he would continue with increasing force to prosecute his program for the welfare of the Philippines but that, as far as he was concerned the die was cast with the Nacionalistas, that the Liberal Party, riddled with corruption, some of its members dominated by Chinese Communists and uncertain of its mission under Quirino’s leadership, would never be effective instrument for accomplishing reforms for Philippines requisite [Page 526] to stable anti-Communist society. There can be no doubt whatever that Magsaysay has made up his mind to accept the Nacionalistas nomination.

Lacy then suggested to Magsaysay desirability of holding Nacionalistas convention March 1 instead of February 1, pointing out that Magsaysay would thereby have another month to prosecute anti-Huk program, finish round-up Chinese Communists and, importantly, remain close to army. Magsaysay replied that army now entirely indoctrinated and would support him on Nacionalistas ticket next fall. He said citizen organizations were communicating their support to him every day.

In reply to Lacy’s questions reasons eagerness Nacionalistas to hold early convention, Magsaysay replied that Recto, Laurel and others, frightened by Quirino’s emerging tactic of labeling his political enemies as Communists and that they realized Magsaysay’s anti-Communist record provides them with bona fides otherwise unobtainable. Magsaysay dismisses scornfully any possibility that Recto and Laurel have ever had any Communist inclinations.

Magsaysay then repeated desire previously expressed to visit the US either as Secretary of Defense or as private citizen after resignation Quirino Cabinet and designation Nacionalista candidate. Lacy said that Magsaysay always welcome US but he unable of course to discuss such visit in definite terms without instructions from Department. Lacy pointed out that visit to US as private citizen matter of no little delicacy since, as private citizen and Nacionalista candidate Magsaysay would be regarded as political adversary Quirino who is Chief of State and to whom US Embassy accredited. Moreover, Lacy suggested Quirino might find it impossible to permit Magsaysay to go US as Secretary Defense. Magsaysay asked for answer this request soonest, observing that if he were well received in the US either as Secretary of Defense or private citizen success his campaign for presidency assured. Lacy said that if he went to US as private citizen he would have to be invited by and be guest of US private citizen.1

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Embassy grateful earliest decision Magsaysay request. This connection your attention invited combined committee report dated 15 December from Embassy, ....2

Spruance
  1. The Department sent the following response to Manila on Jan. 3:

    “Eyes only for Spruance from Allison. Reur 1907 Dec. 31, I believe it wld be inadvisable under present circumstances to encourage Magsaysay to visit US. We wld not be able to arrange an invitation for him as Secy Defense at this time. He is of course free to come as a private cit but in this case we wld be unable to arrange anything of an official nature which wld tend to assure ‘success of his campaign for presidency’.

    “My views re this entire situation continue to be those expressed in Deptel 1720 Dec. 13.” (Telegram 1932; 796.00/12–3152)

  2. See the memorandum, supra .