340. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to Acting Secretary of State Ball1


  • Assistance to the Philippines

The President has read your memorandum of September 92 on the above subject. He has also read Secretary McNamara’s memo of the same date on one of the two subjects you discussed; namely, the supply of equipment for engineer construction battalions for the Philippine Army.

The President has decided:

To have Ambassador Blair tell President Marcos that we are funding three battalions and are now prepared to fund two more. We will agree to put this in writing in the joint communiqué. We are prepared to consider funding five additional battalions in FY 1968.
If Marcos accepts gracefully, fine. If not, the Ambassador could tell him this is a matter the President wishes to discuss with him when he gets to Washington. He could make clear to Marcos that the door is not closed on this, but that it is something our President wishes to discuss with him in person.
In his talks with Marcos, President Johnson will repeat the pledge on supporting five battalions and promise support for the other five in FY 68. He will also tell Marcos, however, that if the Philippine President considers it absolutely vital to his interests to have the 10 battalions immediately, we will give the necessary support. But he will make clear to Marcos that this will mean trimming elsewhere.

Points (1) and (2) above should be conveyed to Ambassador Blair.

State and Defense should work out appropriate handling of funding if we find it necessary to move to support for the full 10 battalions as outlined in (3) above.

On Point 2 of your memo (economic assistance), the President has approved the general commitment as outlined. However, the amount of total commitment or commitment to the individual projects specified in terms of the amounts involved should not be conveyed to Marcos or other Filipinos. The President prefers that these details be negotiated out when Marcos is here.

W. W. Rostow 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Philippines, Vol. III, Memos, 7/66–7/67 [2 of 2]. Secret. Drafted by Rostow on September 10. Rostow sent McNamara a similar memorandum (without the information on general economic assistance) on September 10. (Ibid.)
  2. See footnotes 2 and 3, Document 339.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature. The signed original is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, S/S-White House and Agency Files: Lot 70 D 217, White House/W.W. Rostow.