350. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • Equipment for Five Additional Engineer Battalions (Philippines)

You will recall that we are supplying equipment for five engineer construction battalions for the Philippines. This was in response to [Page 776]President Marcos’ request made during his visit last Fall. The equipment is all to be delivered by the end of this month.

At the same time, you agreed to consider supplying equipment for a second five battalions in Fiscal 1968. As you know, nothing ranks higher on President Marcos’ list of priorities than equipping these 10 battalions for vital civic action work—road building, irrigation, etc. Reports from Manila indicate the Filipinos are beginning to use effectively the equipment thus far provided.

There is no doubt that failure on our part to carry through on the second five would be read by Marcos—and by his political enemies—in this election year as clear evidence of unwillingness to back him on an important program to which he is publicly committed. On the other hand, the political and psychological advantages of our moving forward—even before he pushes us on the matter—would be great.

State and Defense recommend that we promise the additional equipment (see attached memo from Secretary Rusk).2 I heartily concur. The Bureau of the Budget supports the recommendation.

Defense has made available an additional $4.4 million from overall FY 1967 MAP. This will take care of more than 2–1/2 battalions. The additional $4 million required can be acquired by cutting some lower priority items from FY 1968 Philippine MAP.

While promising to supply the equipment, we would not give a firm pledge on timing of deliveries. However, I am assured that every effort will be made to complete delivery in CY 1968 and possibly in FY 1968. This will depend, in part, on the timing of Congressional action on FY 1968 MAP appropriations.

All concerned believe that this action will have a favorable effect in easing some of the tensions that have developed in U.S.-Philippine relations. It is recommended that President Marcos be informed of your decision in a personal letter from you.

This letter also should cover the main elements in our current relations and should open a new and constructive dialogue between you and President Marcos. A proposed text is attached.3 We would telegraph the text and pouch the signed original.

Secretary Rusk asks that you authorize him and Secretary McNamara to inform Congressional leaders on both sides and the chairmen of key committees that you propose to make this commitment. They do not anticipate any objections. You may, however, wish [Page 777]them to carry out this consultation on the Hill before the letter to Marcos is sent.

Walt

Supply of equipment approved4

Disapproved

Letter to Marcos approved

Disapproved

Have Rusk and McNamara consult Congressional leaders

Send letter immediately

Hold letter pending consultations on Hill

See me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Philippines, [Filed by Johnson Library]. Secret.
  2. Dated June 5, not printed. Another copy is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 19–8 US–PHIL.
  3. Not printed. For the letter as sent, see Document 351.
  4. The President checked the options to approve supplying the equipment, the letter to Marcos, Rusk’s consulting with Congressional leaders, and holding the letter to Marcos pending consultations with Congress.