352. Instruction From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Philippines1



  • Terms of Reference for Military Bases Negotiations

Reference is made to the Deputy Under Secretary’s letter of March 2, 1954 to former Ambassador Raymond A. Spruance.2 Since Ambassador Spruance has resigned, it is desired that you continue negotiations with the Philippines on military bases.

Developments during the past year necessitate replacement of the instructions contained in the Deputy Under Secretary’s letter. This instruction, which has the concurrence of the Secretary of Defense, will provide you with a description of our objectives in these negotiations and with instructions of a general nature. Detailed information regarding specific land areas to be acquired, retained or made available for release will be found in enclosures number one and number two.3

These negotiations have two broad objectives:

Changes in the areas covered by the Annexes to the Military Bases Agreement of March 14, 1947.
Consummation of a “property settlement” as contemplated under the Philippine Independence Act of March 24, 1934,4 known as the Tydings–McDuffie Act and the exchange of notes on this subject accompanying signature of the Military Bases Agreement.

These negotiations should not be considered as looking toward any modification of the substantive provisions of the Military Bases [Page 593] Agreement, and any request for modification of such provisions should be resisted and reported to the Department. You will note that negotiations for changes in the areas covered by the Military Bases Agreement are specifically contemplated in paragraph 3, Article I.

It is desired that the negotiations should accomplish the following:

Additional areas described in enclosure number one should be provided by the Philippine Government for use of the U.S. forces in the Philippines. Our rights within these areas should be those provided by the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, and should be coterminous with that Agreement. These new areas should be added to those listed in Annex “A” of that Agreement.
The Philippine Government should bear all the costs involved in obtaining and making available the necessary property interests in these areas to permit United States use in accord with the 1947 Bases Agreement and should undertake to settle without reference to the United States, and without any liability on our part, all public or private claims which may arise in connection with so doing.
The Philippine Government should at the same time agree in principle to take similar action in regard to other lands which may be required by the United States in the future as a result of the military situation. Exact locations in these cases would be determined by agreement with the appropriate Philippine authorities.

In return for these undertakings on the part of the Philippines, the United States is prepared to return to the complete control of the Philippine Government valuable areas as shown in enclosure number one.

The return of these areas should do much to relieve the considerable burden upon the Philippine budget and make it easier for the Filipinos to acquire the required additional areas. You may note that we consider that any country in which we maintain bases for mutual defense should assume the costs of land acquisitions as part of its contribution to the common defense, and that in this instance it is obvious that the strengthening of U.S. bases is of the utmost importance to the Filipinos.

It may also be pointed out to the Philippine Government that the United States is providing large-scale assistance to building up the Filipinos’own defense establishment, drawing attention to our recent provision of 9.5 million dollars for the development of Philippine training facilities and for airfield improvement. The considerable construction contemplated upon the newly-acquired areas by the United States will also be favorably reflected in the Philippine economy.

As indicated in enclosure number one, some rearrangement of Annex A and B bases is also required. If the Philippine Government [Page 594] agrees to transfer to Annex A the Annex B bases or portions thereof to the extent necessary to meet our requirements as shown in enclosure number one, you may in your discretion, if necessary to improve your negotiating position, agree to drop any U.S. rights to the remaining Annex B bases or portions thereof and to abolish the Annex B concept entirely.

The U.S. is prepared to relinquish such title as it now holds to areas to be released to the Philippine Government and does not in any way intend to assert title to the new areas made available to the U.S. forces by the Philippines.

We would prefer to keep title to the areas which we now have and will retain. If, however, it becomes impossible to obtain Philippine agreement to the position set forth in sub-paragraphs a, b and c of the fourth paragraph of this instruction without turning over title to these areas, the U.S. is also prepared to relinquish such title as well, provided the conditions set forth above are met and provided the Philippine Government will guarantee that the relinquishment of title will in no way derogate from the exercise by the United States of all the rights it was accorded in these areas under the 1947 bases agreement. This would not apply, however, to areas to which we now have title and which are to be retained for diplomatic and consular purposes (see enclosure number 2).

In cases where the United States is to relinquish only a part of a larger area, necessary rights of ingress and egress and easements for telephone lines, gas lines, water pipes, power lines, et cetera, should be retained.

Negotiations should lead to agreement as to the boundaries, including technical descriptions, of the areas which we will acquire and as to the areas which we will release. Where in any given area some lands are to be released and others retained the agreement should define the areas which we will retain if there is any doubt on this score. This may be accomplished at service level if necessary.

The overall settlement with the Philippine Government should take the form of an Executive Agreement, into which the President is authorized by existing legislation to enter, as is pointed out in the Attorney General’s opinion of August 28, 1953. The regulations regarding the negotiation and the conclusion of Executive Agreements are found in Chapter 200 of the Foreign Service Manual.

To assist in these negotiations the Office of the Secretary of Defense will make available to the Ambassador a representative of the Secretary of Defense, who will provide necessary legal and technical advice and will be prepared, under the Ambassador’s direction, to carry on with representatives of the Philippine Government detailed negotiations. Expert technical military assistance will also be made available through CINCPAC by the Navy and Air Force. The Defense [Page 595] representative and technical military advisors will report to the Embassy as soon as you indicate the Philippine Government is prepared to open negotiations.

You should report progress of the negotiations to the Department, using the symbol “Milba” within the text of telegrams to identify the subject and the subject “Military Bases Negotiations” in despatches. These symbols will also be used by the Department. Final texts are to be considered as ad referendum Washington. Authorization to sign any agreement reached will be given you at the appropriate time.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.56396/6–855. Secret. Drafted in OSD and PSA; cleared in FE/EX, L, A/FBO, and G; and approved by Sebald and Hensel.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. 48 Stat. 456.
  5. In telegram 252131Z from CINCPAC to CNO, June 26, Admiral Stump expressed concern that the terms of reference would incite strong Philippine Congressional and public backing for Recto’s proposals and might lead to ultimate loss of U.S. exclusive control over the bases at Sangley, Subie and Clark. He stressed that the retention of present bases and U.S. control over them was more important than the acquisition of additional areas. (Department of Defense, OASD/ISA Files, FMRA Records, Philippines)

    In telegram 081654Z from CNO to CINCPAC, July 8, Admiral Duncan replied that while he concurred with Stump’s view, he considered the additional Navy and Air Force requirements to be of strategic urgency. The terms of reference were not intended to modify the substantive provisions of the Military Bases Agreement but only to make certain adjustments in the land areas. The United States could withdraw from the negotiations, Duncan pointed out, in the face of Filipino intransigence without prejudice to present rights. (Ibid.)