371. Memorandum of Conversation0

SUBJECT

  • President Macapagal’s Interview with UPI

PARTICIPANTS

  • Governor W. Averell Harriman—Assistant Secretary, Far Eastern Affairs
  • Ambassador Emilio Abello—Ambassador of the Philippines
  • Mr. James H. McFarland, Jr.—Officer in Charge, Philippine Affairs

Governor Harriman stated that he had asked Ambassador Abello to come in to inform him that President Kennedy was very unhappy over the headline story in today’s Washington Evening News.1 The President and his Administration had gone out on a limb in support of the War Damage Bill. Macapagal’s comments gave no credit to the U.S. Administration and make more difficult getting the revised Zablocki Bill (H.R. 11721) through the U.S. Congress.

Abello replied that the press story did not justify the headline, to which Governor Harriman agreed, acknowledging also Macapagal’s [Page 800]domestic political problems, but asked whether Macapagal could not be persuaded to refrain from any further public comments on deterioration of relations between the countries until the U.S. Congress had time to consider and act on the new pending legislation. Governor Harriman stated that his remarks should in no sense be considered a démarche, but wished President Macapagal could be brought to recognize that such statements were counterproductive.

Governor Harriman assured Ambassador Abello that President Kennedy would make no statement and there would be no official comment here but noted that he personally would be appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee June 12 and anticipated that this statement would be raised by some members.2 He asked if Ambassador Abello could provide him with a helpful clarification of Macapagal’s remarks prior to Tuesday, June 12, which the Ambassador agreed to try to do.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 211.9641/6–862. Confidential. Drafted by McFarland on June 12.
  2. The Washington Evening News of June 8 contained an article, entitled “We May Lose Our Philippine Bases, Macapagal Hints,” that was based on a UPI interview with Macapagal in Manila. Macapagal was quoted as worried that continued deterioration of U.S.-Philippine relations could endanger U.S. base rights, but Macapagal himself stated he was making every effort to halt the deterioration. (Telegram 1505 to Manila, June 8; ibid.)
  3. On June 12, Harriman testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of the Humphrey Bill (S. 2380) and in opposition to the Fulbright Bill (S. 3329) for Philippine war claims. The Humphrey Bill, according to Harriman, which authorized payment to individuals, was the only way to discharge the U.S. moral obligation to claimants and finally terminate claims of that nature. The Fulbright Bill was essentially a grant that did not commit the Philippines Government to reimburse the claimants in any way or use the money in an agreed manner. Some members of the Committee raised Macapagal’s statement as quoted in the Washington Evening News, but Harriman assured them Macapagal had been misquoted. (Telegram 1518 to Manila; ibid., 211.9641/6–1162)