334. Memorandum From Donald W. Ropa of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • State Visit—President Marcos


Marcos’ state visit continues an established ritual for a Philippine president during his term of office. Its two major elements:

Ceremonial reaffirmation of friendship ties developed during the colonial period and second world war.
Confirmation of a “special relationship” with the U.S.

In return for their loyal support, Phils expect special consideration for their material needs. Every Philippine president feels he must bring home tangible evidence of the benefits of our association.

Special factors in this visit

We pressured Marcos to commit Filipino troops to Vietnam. He put his prestige on the line, expended much personal political capital, and at the expense of important domestic legislation pushed the bill through Congress. The troops probably will reach Vietnam while Marcos is here. Marcos’ performance accentuates his expectations for our assist- ance on measures he has given high priority.
The visit will set the tone for our future dealings with Marcos and can be a launching mechanism for a new and more fruitful relationship between our countries. Marcos is a genuine war hero (with a beautiful wife), forceful, energetic and ambitious to develop his nation. His materials at hand are generally unsatisfactory, progress in nation building has been sporadic, and the economy is floundering. However, priorities set by Marcos make sense. The familiar litany of past failure should not deter us from giving Marcos the tools he needs. He may well be the last Philippine president to offer us all-out collaboration.

Philippine Objectives

Marcos wants to come as the representative of an Asian nation enjoying a successful and dignified relationship with us. He is sensitive [Page 736]to charges the Philippines is a mendicant, will want to eliminate any justification for them.
Specifically, he wants to avoid any implication that new U.S. assistance he may receive is a payoff for committing Phil troops to Vietnam.
He looks primarily to expanded bilateral assistance to finance his development plans rather than to IBRD, IMF, ADB—multilateral institutions which unfamiliar to him.
He seeks firm commitments (promises or assurances) of our extensive financial support during his tenure for irrigation, roads, power, rural electrification, land reform.
He will likely agree that the availability of new U.S. aid be conditioned on certain actions on the part of his government, e.g. increased revenue, management reform, etc., but he will want to say on return that he has received specific new aid commitments provided Phils do their part.
More immediately, Marcos wants defense support assistance to contain the resurgence of Huk-inspired violence in Central Luzon. Specifically: our support of seven more engineer battalions with civic action capability and the equipping of three now formed. Other short-term requirements: a program loan package to begin rehabilitating irrigation work and underwrite land banks and agriculture credit; quick resolution of veterans benefits and claims; PL–480 rice, cotton and corn; a civil air agreement; formalization of the 1959 Bohlen-Serrano agreement on base tenure; movement toward revising the Laurel/Langley Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation after its 1974 expiration.
Marcos will want to give a spirited reaffirmation of free world solidarity and militant anti-Communism.

Our Objectives

To gain maximum domestic and international benefit from Philippine commitment, as a free Asian nation, to the effort in Vietnam and broader U.S. policy objectives in Asia. (Advance information is Marcos’ address to the joint session of Congress will be panegyric in supporting President Johnson and our Asian policies.)
To come up with an aid package that meets Marcos’ minimum desiderata as opposed to the maximum requests he has made.
To lay the groundwork for rationalizing Philippine development plans geared to multinational support.
To limit new bilateral assistance to essential areas consistent with longer term stress on multilateral aid.
To be forthcoming in giving Marcos what he needs to put down resurgent Huk activity.

Groundwork and Preparations

We have talked here over the past several weeks with a Philippine technical aid mission and the Phil reps on a joint panel to resolve veterans benefits and claims. Informal understanding with the technical aid mission has gone far toward gaining Phil acceptance of the necessity for multilateral aid and placing Marcos’ requests for large-scale aid within a context of further consultation (a copy of the understanding is attached).2

The joint veterans panel has harmoniously resolved the benefits issues, but two legitimate claims were developed that still require resolution.

We have yet to complete action on most items in the minimum aid package—support for the 10 engineer battalions, PL–480, the program loan package, civil air agreement, plus Bohlen/Serrano and Laurel/Langley. Prods to Defense, AID and Agriculture are probably required.


Major events fixed, in addition to ceremonies and events for usual two and half days Washington activities, are:

Address to joint session of Congress September 15.
National Press Club address September 16.
Meet the Press interview September 18.
University of Michigan honorary degree September 19.
UNGA address September 21.

I understand the Vice President is considering the possibility of other public appearances for Marcos, specifically relating to Vietnam, prior to his September 24 departure.


Draft joint communiqué language has been requested from Embassy Manila based on a summary of all substantive aspects of the visit which has gone to Ambassador Blair (copy attached).3

Don Ropa
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Philippines, Marcos Visit Papers, Memos, 9/14–16/66. Secret. Bromley Smith wrote the following note on the memorandum: “Mr. Rostow. For 3 p.m. meeting today, BKS.” For a summary of this meeting, see Document 335.
  2. Not attached, but see footnote 3, Document 335.
  3. Telegram 26023 to Manila, August 11. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 PHIL)