No. 334
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Philippine Affairs (Wanamaker)



  • United States role in Philippine elections—call upon the President by Carlos P. Romulo

Time: 9:23 A.M.–9:40 A.M., Tuesday, June 30, 1953.


  • The President
  • Carlos P. Romulo
  • Temple Wanamaker, PSA

The President cordially greeted Mr. Romulo and said “Carlos, I understand you are going into politics, too”.1

Romulo proceeded to express his concern over honest elections in the Philippines and his hope that arms and munitions supplied by the United States would not be used to carry out a fraudulent election in the Philippines. The President said that the objective of this Government was to have good, friendly governments throughout the world whose representatives were elected by their own processes, that the United States had no intention of doing anything that could be construed as interference in the affairs of these governments, that the Philippines was no exception, and that he was instructing his Government accordingly.

The President then asked what the differences were between the political parties. Romulo stated that the Nacionalistas, as the name implied, were very nationalistic in their outlook and that this was the party of Laurel and Recto, who had stepped aside to make room for Magsaysay. The President said he understood Magsaysay was an honest, straightforward man. Romulo remarked that the big drawback to Magsaysay was his lack of background and experience. He added that at a recent press conference Magsaysay was unable to explain the difference between “balance of trade” and the “Trade Agreement”.

The President emphasized that the United States was not taking sides in the election and could not even use indirect pressures such as the threat to cut military aid. The President said that even though he might feel favorably inclined towards one candidate because of past friendships he would never permit himself to be quoted as favoring any candidate.

[Page 538]

Romulo said that President Quirino was arriving this morning for medical treatment and would try to run the government from his bedside at Johns Hopkins. Romulo emphasized his concern that Quirino while he was here would try to get the United States involved in a joint commission to consider the Trade Agreement and that he hoped the matter could be deferred until after the elections.2 The President stated he was not too familiar with this matter but that we were doing all possible to avoid getting involved in the elections.

On the way out several newspapermen asked Romulo what had transpired. He said that he could not talk about the interview but that he did have a prepared statement, which he presented to them. The statement began “I have not come here to air our dirty political linen at home.” Mr. Wanamaker pointed out that this call was the regular protocol call a retiring ambassador pays on the President and which Romulo had not had an opportunity to make prior to his departure for Manila.

  1. During the previous month, Carlos Romulo had decided to run for the Philippine Presidency as the candidate of the Democratic Party. Prior to the election, he in effect gave up the race and supported Magsaysay against Quirino.
  2. In a letter of July 10 Thruston B. Morton, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, informed H. Alexander Smith, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Far Eastern Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of the latest developments in U.S.-Philippine trade matters. On May 5, the Philippine Government officially requested establishment of a joint committee to study and recommend a definite form of readjustment of trade relations and submitted its own proposals to be used as a basis for such study. On July 1, the United States responded by suggesting, instead of the formation of a joint committee, that the Philippine proposals be referred to a U.S. special executive commission for study.

    Morton’s letter also contained the following paragraph:

    “From the time the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines first suggested to the American Ambassador at Manila in June 1952 that a joint United States-Philippines committee be appointed to study and to make recommendations on revision of the Trade Agreement the Department has firmly opposed this proposal. Objection to it has been made on the ground that the Philippines, not the United States, was asking for changes, and since the Philippines is now an independent country, it should request the specific changes it desired which would then be given consideration by the United States. For your confidential information, the Department’s decision against a joint committee approach in handling the Philippine request for revision was prompted also by certain political considerations. The Department is of the opinion that the Philippine proposal for a joint committee is a political move to transfer to the United States the responsibility for the disappointments to important Philippine business interests that will inevitably result from any kind of revision involving selected free trade, which is one of the major Philippine proposals. Any such revision would favor the business interests of some politically important Filipinos over the interests of others equally important; this might have unfavorable political repercussions.” (411.9631/7–1053)