364. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, September 26, 19551


  • Subie Bay Naval Reservation


  • Mr. Gordon Gray, Assistant Secretary of Defense
  • Admiral Radford, Admiral Stump, Admiral Davis, Admiral Dennison, Admiral Burke and General Wilson, Department of Defense
  • Acting Secretary of State, Mr. Hoover
[Page 609]

FE—Assistant Secretary Robertson and Mr. Howard Jones

PSA—Messrs. Young and Bell

Mr. Robertson stated that meetings between representatives of Defense, Navy and the State Department on the “working level” had arrived at general agreement as to the best way to handle the problem arising from Philippine complaints about the Navy’s administration of the town of Olongapo. He said the Department was in agreement with the Navy and Defense position, that it was not feasible to move the entire town of Olongapo and that it would not be possible to turn over the entire administration of the town to the Philippine Government. He said that he understood that the Navy was in receipt of a report made by a Special Board of Inquiry which contained a number of suggestions for improvements in the administration of the town of Olongapo. It was further understood that on the basis of this report an instruction was being prepared which would in general follow the lines agreed upon by representatives of State, Defense and Navy during the recent meeting in Admiral Smedberg’s office. In essence there is no disagreement on this subject between the Department of State and the Department of Defense.

Mr. Gordon Gray said that he understood that there was no difference of view in Washington but that Ambassador Ferguson had made some recommendations with respect to moving the town of Olongapo and giving the Philippines complete administrative control which were not fully in accord with the agreement reached by the State, Navy and Defense working group. With respect to moving the town Mr. Gray stated that Navy would be willing to have everybody move or to have the entire town moved if the Philippine Government so desired and was willing to pay the cost of such a move. He said that in fact we would be willing to offer technical aid in such a contingency. He reiterated that the Navy must have administrative responsibility for the town of Olongapo. Mr. Gray suggested that it might be possible to use ICA funds to help solve some of the problems which have arisen in Olongapo.

Mr. Hoover said that this would be difficult because ICA funds were appropriated for specific purposes as laid down by the Congress and to use them on American military bases would necessitate going back to Congress. Mr. Hoover inquired as to who owned the land on which the bases were situated and who owned the buildings in the town of Olongapo.

Admiral Radford said that there was no question but that we owned the land and that the individuals living in Olongapo owned their own homes. Admiral Radford then showed Mr. Hoover a map of the highway which ran through the town of Olongapo and pointed [Page 610] out that a survey had been made for a road to by-pass the town. He said that as many as 100 buses a day passed through the town.

Admiral Burke stated that the Navy was prepared to do further planning, particularly managerial planning, with respect to Olongapo and that it would undertake to improve conditions on a step-by-step basis. He said that the sanitation at Olongapo was extremely bad by United States standards and that it must be improved. He suggested the possibility of using ICA funds for sanitation work.

Mr. Gordon Gray returned to the question of the agreed position of the working group and stated that he felt we should exercise great caution before making any specific offer to help the Philippines relocate the town of Olongapo if they wished to do so. He said he felt that we should merely indicate that we would have no objection if they wished to relocate the town and that we might be able to provide technical advice.

Admiral Radford referred to the difficulties of controlling the town and of establishing proper security safeguards, particularly in view of the Philippine propensity to bring large families into the area.

Admiral Radford stated that the highway around the city, which had been surveyed by the Seabees, if constructed would do a great deal to solve one of the most pressing problems. He said that this could be a Philippine National Highway. It was agreed that Mr. Hoover would be furnished a résumé of the report on the road project at the time of his visit to Pearl Harbor on his way to the Far East.

Mr. Robertson stated that the Department of State was fully aware of the need for better public relations with the Philippines and said that Mr. Streibert has one of his best men in Manila. He also said that since the recent visit of Mr. Saxton Bradford2 to Manila the situation seems to have greatly improved and the various people working on Ambassador Ferguson’s team have a better understanding of their duties.

Admiral Radford said that his chief concern with respect to the Philippines was on a broad basis. He cited the necessity for Magsaysay taking a strong position and really going after his enemies.

Mr. Young referred to Magsaysay’s recent break with Senator Recto and the fact that Recto was kept off the Nationalista Senatorial ticket.

Admiral Radford said that he had been told by Mr. Allen Dulles that the chances were excellent for Recto to be elected. Admiral Radford said that Magsaysay had not followed through on his first victory [Page 611] over Recto and that he needed to get out in the provinces and actively campaign against Senator Recto.

Mr. Hoover asked if there was any time limit on the bases negotiation. Admiral Radford said “No”, that they had been under consideration several years.

Mr. Robertson stated that we felt no formal negotiations should be undertaken prior to the Philippine elections, but that after the elections we should definitely press strongly ahead on the negotiations.

Admiral Radford said that he had discussed the negotiations with the Secretary of the Navy and they hoped that Artemus Gates would consent to accept the position of the Ambassador’s Military Representative in the bases negotiations. Admiral Radford said that any agreement that requires the Philippines to buy land will not work as they will not fulfill their promises to purchase land for us. He cited the case of the Philippine Shipyard at Mariveles and the failure of the Philippines to provide land they promised us at Cavite.

Mr. Robertson stated that we would have to settle for deeds, not promises.

It was the belief of those present that an instruction to Ambassador Ferguson on the basis of the agreement reached at the working level by the representatives of State, Defense and Navy would be an appropriate first step in this situation.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Secret. Drafted by Bell. A slightly different memorandum of this conversation, prepared on September 26 by James Wilson of OFMA, is in Department of Defense,OASD/ISA Files, FMRA Records, Philippines.
  2. Assistant Director for the Far East, USIA.