355. Memorandum From Marshall Wright of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • The Philippines

You will remember our recent memo to the President, “Something’s Wrong in the Philippines.”2 We asked Embassy, Manila for their interpretation of Marcos’ current behavior and the attached airgram3 is their answer.

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I do not find it very helpful. Basically, they are saying that Marcos is worrying about his political image and is therefore being stand-offish with us. But he is more concerned with the Presidential election two years hence than he is with the imminent congressional elections. If he is coming to believe that his good relationship with us is a political liability, that is a very worrisome thing, indeed, and has implications that run far beyond November.

The airgram says that Marcos thinks he can use the left-wingers and ultra-nationalists by keeping them close to him. Perhaps. But he certainly knows that he cannot keep them close to him unless there are changes in his relations with us. If, therefore, he is considering a move to the left in domestic politics, he is considering a new tone, and perhaps a new substance in his relations with the U.S.

This airgram simply serves to strengthen my belief that there is some urgency in getting a new ambassador to Manila.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Philippines, Vol. IV, Memos, 8/67–11/68. Secret.
  2. Document 354.
  3. Airgram A–127 from Manila, August 27; not printed.