367. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Acting Secretary of State 1

SUBJECT

  • Rural Rehabilitation Program; Philippines

I have gone over the background of the proposals for this program and come to the conclusion that we should recommend to you that our action on the proposals be delayed and that any announcement deemed necessary locally for political purposes prior to the Philippine senatorial election, November 8, should not come from an American source.

Our interest in this program has been intense as it is undoubtedly of great importance politically, socially, and economically, in the Philippines. However, the fact that we have been able to obtain from the Country Team so few details on the program’s execution leads us to believe that it has not yet been properly thought through. Analysis of what has been made available along with the comments of a special ICA Community Development Survey Team indicate that the plan is too grandiose, top heavy administratively and, probably, based on assumptions not applicable to the Philippines.

I believe it far more important for us, and for President Magsaysay, to insure that a sound, successful program can be made part of the administration’s record for use during the Presidential election in 1957 than it is to attempt a doubtful political maneuver now which could possibly risk the launching of the program on an unsound basis with resultant adverse political repercussions. I use the term “doubtful” because any announcement by the Ambassador so soon before the November 8 election would provide Senator Recto with a [Page 615] potent appeal to nationalism on the ground of our interference in the election.

Should Magsaysay insist on some show of American support, I recommend we authorize him to announce that aid for the program has been promised and that “the experts” are now working out the details of how we can best assist. If questioned the Ambassador could then state publicly that the United States was convinced of the necessity for the program.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 796.5–MSP/10–2155. Secret. Initialed by Hoover indicating his approval.