354. Memorandum From Marshall Wright of the National Security Council Staff to William J. Jorden of the National Security Council Staff1


  • Something’s Wrong in Manila

A weather change seems to have set in in our relations with the Philippines, or, more precisely, our relations with President Marcos.

The tone of Marcos’ reply to President Johnson’s letter of August 17 is stiff and unforthcoming.2 That is, however, only the latest of several places of evidence of strain in our relations with Marcos: [Page 787]

  • Marcos is considering the appointment of J.V. Cruz as his Press Secretary and Blas Ople as his Secretary of Labor. Both are so notoriously anti-American that their consideration by Marcos is difficult to understand.
  • —Recently, Marcos indicated a reluctance to announce our agreement to provide equipment for 5 more engineering construction battalions. This is a complete turnabout on his part and his explanation of it is unconvincing.
  • Marcos was adamantly uncooperative on the Clifford-Taylor visit, which simply would not have caused him as much political difficulty as he pretends.

It seems to me evident that something is going on in Manila or in Marcos’ own mind which we do not understand. Whatever it is, it is already creating substantial problems for us. I have talked to the people in State about this and they are hoping that Bill Blair’s imminent return to Manila will precipitate an Embassy assessment of the difficulty. Blair, however, is somewhat crippled by a lameduck status.

I hope that there will not be too much delay in naming and getting to Manila a new ambassador. I think we need one even more than we had realized earlier.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Philippines, Vol. IV, Memos, 8/67–11/68. Secret. Jorden passed this memorandum to President Johnson on August 24, 7:30 p.m. In his covering memorandum to the President, August 24, Jorden described Wright as “the very able officer who has replaced Don Ropa on our Staff.” Jorden told the President, “I heartily agree that something is souring our dealings with Marcos—and that we should find out what it is. I will be working on this.” There is an indication on Jorden’s memorandum that the President saw it. (Ibid.)
  2. The August 21 Marcos letter and the August 17 Johnson letter are ibid., Special Head of State Correspondence, Marcos Correspondence.