319. Telegram From the Embassy in the Philippines to the Department of State 1

1161. Ref Embtel 1159.2 Subj Dec 13 meeting with Marcos—various subjects.

1.

Phil aid to Vietnam. I said to Marcos this meeting of course not time talk in detail about Phil aid to SVN, but I did want to convey him utter seriousness of my government’s hope that Phils as free-world power and country whose interests vitally at stake would increase assistance to Vietnam. He would undoubtedly want to consult with Phil Congressional leaders about sending specific units or elements and mention these might be premature. My govt hoped however would be possible make statement in inaugural address about seriousness Communist aggression Vietnam and his intention do what is necessary and possible that Communism not prevail there. I said US Govt and people would be most favorably impressed if he could do this. Marcos interjected to say he certainly would. I then said US Govt continues hope that Phils will be able to provide at least engineer task force with [Page 700]integral security element, indicating another occasion would be proper time talk about possible specific forces.

Marcos told me he had intended take up question of additional Phil assistance to Vietnam with NP leaders as urgent matter, but problem of Vice-Presidency in Dec 14th session Congress to proclaim winners3 and other problems had intruded and he had not been able to do so yet. Accordingly it had to wait but he intended to get at it in next week or two.

2.

R&R. I said I wanted mention this because of much exaggerated and erroneous speculation in press. I then reviewed rest program at level of about 136 servicemen from Vietnam we have in mind noting no hotels to be leased and that delay in starting is due to completion arrangements on immigration and aircraft clearance procedures. I pointed out Manila only one of several R&R sites in Far East. Told him no decision yet about separate R&R program for Seventh Fleet involving perhaps 200 Navy personnel at any given time. I said of course if US strength in Vietnam increases might well be increase in 136 for Phils but not “thousands” to which columnists now referring.

This is only subj on which Marcos took notes. He wanted know, before I explained, what is holding up initiation of the program, and seemed surprised at small number we propose bring here from Vietnam. He indicated he had no objections to R&R program and made disparaging remarks about press coverage of matter and about Phil press in general.

3.

Nuclear-powered ships. I told Marcos I wanted mention arrangements I had with Pres Macapagal regarding visits these ships to Subic Bay. Emphasizing tremendous importance of these ships to free-world deterrent power in Far East, and noting visits not frequent, I told him of arrangement under which I informed only Pres Macapagal or SecDef in advance of arrival. I said if he agreed I propose continue this arrangement, keeping information oral rather than written. I said if he wanted I would give the info also to FonSec and SecDef to be closely held, but not to members of staff those departments.

Marcos said he would like me to continue present arrangement and perhaps give it also to SecDef, mentioning at this point that he had not yet decided who would be his Defense Secretary.

[1 paragraph (5 lines of source text) not declassified]

In closing I invited him visit Enterprise next time it in, perhaps Jan, and he said he hoped very much visit ship but Jan might be [Page 701]too soon. Marcos indicated in course this discussion he fully comprehended the significance of these ships for free-world defense in Far East area.

4.

Base-land relinquishments. I informed Marcos we seem to have reached agreement with DFA on relinquishments agreement and that since we have negotiated it over many months with Macapagal administration we would be prepared, if present administration wants do so, go ahead and finalize agreement.

Marcos nodded his assent and indicated he had no objection to our signing the agreement before his inauguration. (See septel for his comments to press bearing on this topic and subsequent message to me through Ben Romualdez that he had reconsidered and would like us to drag our feet on this.)4

5.

Koreans at Clark Hospital. Referring to large Korean contingent in Vietnam, and US support of these forces including medical assistance, I told him some Koreans being evacuated to Korea through hospital at Clark. Said battle casualties sometimes arrive within hours after being wounded and under circumstances passport and visa formalities obviously not feasible, said knowing humanitarian instincts Phil people I was sure no objection to evacuating Koreans through Clark. I told him that to assist in translation and other matters, a Korean army medical officer is working at Clark Hospital with our people.

Marcos indicated he had no objection to this, but said firmly that he preferred we should not talk about the presence of the Koreans at Clark—that we should avoid any publicity on this.

6.
Tour of US bases. Recognizing he would be extremely busy in next weeks, I said nevertheless our base commanders would be honored if he would visit the bases so that we could brief him about US military activities there. I suggested he might want to take along the FonSec and SecDef and perhaps chairmen of pertinent Congressional committees.

Marcos replied that he would like to do this but was not sure how soon it would be possible because of his busy schedule.

Blair
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 PHIL. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Saigon, CINCPAC for POLAD, CHJUSMAGPHIL, CINCPACREPPHIL, 13th AF CAB.
  2. In telegram 1159 from Manila, December 14, Blair reported on other aspects and topic of his meeting with Marcos. (Ibid.)
  3. The separate election for Vice President, also held on November 9, was much closer than the Presidential contest. Nationalist candidate Fernando Lopez defeated Liberal candidate Gerardo Roxas by 3,531,550 to 3,504,826 votes.
  4. Not further identified.