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

215920. For Ambassador.

1. Request you deliver in person the following letter dated June 24, from President Johnson to President Marcos. (Signed original being pouched.)2

Begin Text

“Dear Mr. President:

I still think often and warmly of your and Mrs. Marcos’ visit to Washington last year, and of our later meetings in your capital during [Page 778]the Manila conference. And I read with close attention reports from your country, especially those which describe your courageous struggle to meet the urgent problems that confront you.

Some of these reports have caused me to give a good deal of thought in recent weeks to the relations between our two countries. From a remark you made some weeks ago to an American reporter—that our relations ’are in a vexing and irritating period of readjustment’—I know that this question is very much on your mind, too.

I think it would be useful, therefore, if you and I could exchange views on this important subject. I believe we should explore together what can be done to strengthen and deepen our relations, and to remove, or at least reduce, such irritants as exist.

At the outset, I must say that I have no doubt whatsoever that our relations rest on a solid foundation. Our shared history and common values are important parts of this foundation. In the long run, of course, durable and harmonious relations between nations depend on their national interests, but here, too, I find no cause for anxiety.

Your national interests and ours are on parallel courses. Our two countries are cooperating toward the goal of peace in the Pacific. Our military presence in the Philippines contributes to your security and enables you to concentrate your resources more fully on social and economic development.

At the same time, our presence permits us to fulfill our heavy responsibilities in the area as a whole.

You and your administration are making strenuous efforts to build a strong and expanding economy, one that will give your people more jobs, improved housing, a higher standard of living, broader education, and better health. I know that you are pushing ahead to expand internal savings, both public and private, to finance these efforts. We ardently hope that you will succeed.

I know very well the difficult problems you face in these efforts to produce effective programs and convert them into actions. I assure you that we are anxious and ready to help.

At the same time, we both realize that irritations exist. During your visit to Washington and since, you and I have cleared up many of these matters which had been pending too long.

Our governments signed a new agreement on bases tenure. We have supplied high-speed boats to help in your anti-smuggling campaign. We have taken action on veterans’ benefits and are making progress on claims. We reached agreement on the first two projects under the Special Fund for Education. Our A.I.D. program is going [Page 779]forward in promising new directions, particularly in rural development. We are ready to begin discussion of the concept of our trade relations after the expiration of the Laurel-Langley Agreement.

Your program to raise rice production is among the most hopeful in Asia today.

We agreed last September to equip five engineer battalions which, in addition to their military mission, are carrying out vital civic action programs. I am assured this equipment will be delivered by the end of this fiscal year. I have read encouraging reports on the potential of those battalions and the key role they are beginning to play in your economic and social development effort.

I have considered providing equipment for the second five battalions, as I promised to do. I am happy to tell you that we will be able to provide equipment for these additional battalions, subject, of course, to the availability of appropriated funds. The equipment for these battalions will be financed in part from this year’s funds, and the balance from new appropriations. Some of these funds represent additional assistance, but some may have to come from within planned military assistance levels with engineer equipment replacing items of a lesser priority. I hope that you will treat this undertaking as wholly private between us. I believe we should consult closely as to the appropriate timing and form of an announcement, and I would appreciate your views on this at your early convenience.

When you were here, you and Mrs. Marcos told us of your deep interest in providing support for the Philippine National Cultural Center. I have looked into this and am delighted to tell you that I have now authorized Secretary Rusk to work out formal arrangements with your officials along the lines of the proposal your Government advanced earlier this year. This calls for a $3,500,000 contribution into a trust fund, the interest on which will be used to finance the programs and operations of the Cultural Center.

Sometimes we cannot meet requests from your Government. The turnover of Sangley is an example. That base serves important security and defense purposes—ours, yours, and those of our allies. When we studied the matter, we saw no feasible way of shifting the operations elsewhere.

I assure you that I will do everything in my power to help you in every way I can. I am deeply desirous of doing all possible to reduce irritations. I know the presence of American military personnel in the Philippines is bound to produce some strains. But I am sure you will agree that mutual understanding and mutual sensitivity can keep those strains within bounds.

Our common problems cannot be solved only by the actions of one or the other of us. And I must confess candidly that I am troubled [Page 780]by the chorus of extreme criticism from some Filipinos directed against us, our policies and our actions.

I am troubled, also, by signs of increased hostility toward foreign investment, a matter that is being discussed extensively now in American business circles.

As you know, foreign capital played an enormous role in the economic development of the United States. It could do the same in the Philippines. But it is not likely to be attracted if it is regarded with suspicion and distrust.

I realize you are doing what you can to keep these matters in true perspective for your countrymen. I hope the report by the special committee on Philippine-American relations of your Congress will provide a better and deeper understanding of what is involved in our relations and what needs to be done to further improve them.

It was my hope that Vice President Humphrey would be able to visit your country and to discuss these matters in detail. Unfortunately, his journey to the Philippines and other countries of the area had to be postponed because of the Middle East crisis and other urgent business here. He will be heading our delegation to the inauguration of President Park in Seoul, but will return immediately to Washington.

I had hoped the Vice President could deliver this letter during his visit. I have, instead, asked Ambassador Blair to present it to you promptly.

I have written to you as I can only to a friend, knowing that you have given these matters a great deal of thought. I would deeply value your views on what we each can do to serve better our common interests and our shared purposes. You know how much I value your friendship and advice, and how much I believe in the close and continuing cooperation of our two countries and peoples.

Sincerely, Lyndon B. Johnson

2. In addition, you should make clear following point orally to President Marcos: We want to make clear that while we will provide the funds in FY1968 we are not undertaking to deliver all of the equipment in FY68. We will, of course, do our best to deliver the equipment as rapidly as possible.3 FYI: It is particularly important that Marcos [Page 781]understand this because the language of article 15 of the September 15, 1966 Communiqué bound us to provide (i.e. deliver) equipment for five ECBs in FY67 and to consider furnishing (i.e. delivering) equipment for five more ECBs in FY68. End FYI.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL PHIL–US. Secret; Niact; Limdis. Drafted by Service, then revised in the White House; cleared by Walt Rostow, William Bundy, Steadman of DOD/ISA, and Ives of AID.
  2. The signed original is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence, Philippines, Part II [2 of 2].
  3. Blair reported in telegram 12912 from Manila, June 25, that he delivered the letter to Marcos who read it then and was pleased. Marcos told Blair that hostility toward American investment was politically motivated pressure from vested Philippine business interests. Marcos promised a showdown on the pending Investment Incentive Bill. He dismissed the extreme criticism of the United States by noting it came from a small minority of politicians who collaborated with the Japanese in World War II, whose outlook was “professional anti-American.” Marcos accepted the injunction that not all the equipment would arrive in fiscal year 1968. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL PHIL–US)