308. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Philippines1

36. Embtel 44.2 In light of recent developments we believe it necessary to recognize that Macapagal will not recertify aid to Viet-Nam bill, and that further efforts by us to persuade him to do so will be unproductive. We believe it desirable, therefore, to terminate discussions to this end with Macapagal and other Philippine leaders. We would like to do this with as little contention as possible both because we will be needing cooperative atmosphere in Manila during next few months as Viet-Nam conflict develops and in order not to prejudice what we regard as rather slim chance that he will take action after election.

Objectives should be to accept present situation, to keep door open for change in GOP position after elections, and to have Macapagal feeling he owes us something and inclined to cooperate with us wherever he can.

We think there are some advantages in using indirect but reliable channel to Macapagal for some if not all of our reaction, but we leave decision in this regard in your hands. Points to be covered in message to him are:

It is up to Macapagal whether he wishes to pursue proposal to send volunteers.3 As for US role, apart from fact that volunteer project does not meet essential need for GOP endorsement of assistance to GVN, we have carefully considered problems involved in any US financial support for a private fund-raising venture on this scale, and [Page 678] conclude that it simply cannot be done without exposing US hand to degree that would be most damaging both to US interests and to Macapagal himself. Thus, in event GOP decides to go ahead with idea, it must do so on its own as to raising of funds and promotion of project within Philippines. Believe GOP would also find it essential to consult with GVN. FYI: Most that USG could do would be to contribute overseas benefits within SVN on same basis originally agreed for official contingent. End FYI.
Without pushing Macapagal into corner, we wish him to understand clearly that we are greatly disappointed by fact that Phil Administration publicly and enthusiastically proposed significant military effort in Viet-Nam and then retreated, which will provide useful propaganda ammunition to those opposed to our Viet-Nam policy both here and abroad.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Philippines, Vol. II, Cables, 6/64–6/66. Secret; Immediate; Priority. Drafted by Ballentyne and Cuthell, cleared by William Bundy and Komer, and approved by Rusk.
  2. In telegram 44 from Manila, July 7, Blair reported a conversation with Hechanova who insisted that the Philippines could either send volunteers (in reality, members of the Philippine armed forces) to Vietnam now or wait until after the Presidential election. If Macapagal won, he would call a special session of the Philippine Congress to pass a Vietnam bill. Hechanova stated that he did not understand the U.S. opposition to the volunteer concept. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 27 from Manila, July 5, Blair reported that he had spoken with Macapagal that morning. They first discussed the upcoming Presidential election and Macapagal stated that by hard work and campaigning he believed he had a slight edge over Marcos. He confided to Blair that if President Johnson had visited the Philippines, his reelection would have been assured. Macapagal raised the issue of sending a battalion of engineers to South Vietnam ostensibly funded by public subscription, but actually funded by U.S. sources. (Ibid.) The Department of State responded in telegram 29 to Manila, July 6, that the proposal for volunteers was both “unacceptable and impractical.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 27–3 VIET S)