329. Memorandum From James C. Thomson, Jr., of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1

SUBJECT

  • A Marcos Visit: The Plot Thickens

You should know (and at some point the President should know) that the problem of a Marcos visit is becoming more complex. In this regard, next week will be preliminary Philippines Week: we will have in town both Ambassador Blair (who hopes to see the President—see the attached memorandum from State)2 and Marcos’ brother-in-law and confidential aide, Benjamin Romualdez.

The dimensions of the Marcos visit’s new complexity are revealed in Blair’s two lengthy conversations with Marcos, reported in Manila’s 2323 and especially Manila’s 2326 and 2327.3 These cables are long and somewhat depressing. To the cynic they reveal that Marcos is acting more and more like a Philippine President than the tough and far- sighted New Dealer/pragmatist that he appeared to be earlier this year.

In brief, Marcos does not want to come to Washington unless he can return with some highly tangible goodies. He fears the juxtaposition of Philippine troops to Vietnam with a Washington visit, as this might tag him with the label of “American errand boy”. In order to avoid such a label, he wants to extract from his Washington visit U.S. responsiveness on a number of new and old items: specifically, Philippine omnibus claims (a matter which we officially decreed a closed book under the Eisenhower Administration), base negotiations, veterans benefits (on which a joint U.S./Filipino Commission will be negotiating in the next few months), U.S. procurement for Vietnam, a stabilization fund, aid for the construction of a thermal power plant, more school houses, and a long new list of military equipment. This is not quite an all-or-nothing proposition, although obviously the Fils want as much as they can get.

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The upshot of the above is that an early and simple Marcos visit is probably out of the question. Despite the fact that his early appearance here might do us some political good on Vietnam, etc., it would not do him good, in his view, unless he comes back with his hands very full.

Blair and Romualdez will both be carrying this message to State and the White House next week. This should give us a chance to weigh more precisely our needs versus Fil needs regarding a Marcos visit. As you know, State has previously urged that Marcos’ visit be put off until much later in the year; the new evidence of Fil thinking on the subject should strengthen State’s convictions.

I attach a possible memorandum for the President about State’s request for an appointment for Bill Blair.4

Jim
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Philippines, Vol. II, 6/64–6/66 [1 of 2]. Secret.
  2. Not attached; a copy of the May 3 memorandum is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 PHIL.
  3. Telegram 2323 is dated April 29; telegrams 2326 and 2327 are both dated May 3. (Ibid., DEF 9 PHIL and POL 15–1 PHIL)
  4. Not found, but in a May 5 memorandum to the President, Rostow suggested that it would be “useful” for the President to meet Blair who was “fresh from two long talks with President Marcos and has a clear view of the potential problems surrounding a Marcos visit. At the moment, Marcos is worried about coming here too soon after final passage of the Philippine Vietnam Aid Bill; he is also beginning to attach to the visit some large-scale economic and military requests which will require some sorting and negotiation prior to his arrival.” The President approved the meeting with Blair. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Walt Rostow, Vol. VII, 4/2/66–5/26/66)