796.11/8–1953: Telegram

No. 336
The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in the Philippines


464. Bonsal and Bell1 called on Quirino August 18; Acting Secretary and Mr. Robertson called on August 19. All in agreement Quirino appears in pathetically low state of health, lacks vitality and capacity for sustained discussion. He is in wheel chair allegedly because of gout.

Conversation Acting Secretary, Robertson and Quirino completely courtesy and social with only brief expression by Quirino that he hoped Philippine political campaign would not interfere with normal US-Philippine relations.

In conversation with Bonsal and Bell, Quirino referred to guerrilla recognition, Trade Agreement revision, and back pay and other benefits Philippine veterans.

Bonsal stated guerrilla recognition closed and referred to letter to Governor Cuenco which later appeared as Department press release April 1950.2 Quirino was not familiar with letter to Cuenco but did not pursue subject indicating he may have held little hope any success this issue. Bonsal described steps we have taken re Trade Agreement, need for careful study, July 21 request for additional information and need for coordination with President Eisenhower’s new committee on economic policy.3

Quirino said that one of ten possible items of discussion at this time would be question of payment of increases in Philippine Armed Forces pay rates ordered by Osmena in 1944. He said General MacArthur had approved Osmena’s order. Bonsal stated that he was not familiar with this specific issue but that he believed all matters of this nature had been thoroughly explored and equitably settled in the past. He said, however, that if the Filipinos cared to raise any new issues through normal diplomatic channels we would give them usual prompt and thorough consideration.

Quirino stated that he had called Castelo to Washington especially to discuss these issues with appropriate American officials next week. If Castelo, who has not yet approached us, proposes discuss [Page 546] these matters, it will be suggested that issues fully documented be presented through normal diplomatic channels for our examination before we can determine whether such discussions with Castelo warranted.

In discussing forthcoming elections, Quirino said that they would be conducted in accordance with democratic principles. He referred to 1951 elections as model and added he would not jeopardize honorable record his forty years public service just to serve another two years as President. Bonsal expressed satisfaction this statement and stressed importance attached here this question. Quirino attacked Laurel for alleged statements re “revolution”; and accused Nacionalistas fostering rumors that election would be characterized by fraud and corruption. He referred to Batangas abortive uprising in 1950 as having been Laurel inspired. His comments on political situation delivered in weary and bitter tone.

In reply to press inquiries Department has stated calls on Quirino were of purely courtesy nature.

Quirino said he plans leave here by air August 24 stopping three or four days San Francisco and three or four days Honolulu on way to Philippines.4

  1. James D. Bell of the Office of Philippine and Southeast Asian Affairs.
  2. The text of the letter from Secretary Acheson to Governor Manuel Cuenco of Cebu, who had transmitted a resolution from the Conference of Philippine Provincial Governors and Mayors, is printed in Department of State Bulletin, May 22, 1950, p. 820.
  3. Reference is to the Commission on Foreign Economic Policy, chaired by Clarence B. Randall, which submitted its report to President Eisenhower on Jan. 23, 1954.
  4. On Aug. 20, the Department of State added the following information:

    “Quirino in brief reference to Huk situation said he was not concerned. Implied does not view situation as serious any longer. No reference to alleged surrender negotiations.” (Telegram 474; 796.001/8–2053)