188. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Coordination of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Trueheart) to the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hughes)1

SUBJECT

  • Philippines—Request by President Marcos for Direct Channel to CIA

At the regular EA/CIA meeting today (Brown, Godley, Wright, Duemling, and Trueheart present), Nelson reported on a meeting between Helms and Marcos which took place during the latter’s presence in Washington for the Eisenhower funeral. At this meeting Helms, responding to concerns expressed by Marcos, gave categoric assurances that CIA is in no way involved in the Philippine elections and would not be. He distinguished the present situation sharply from the Magsaysay period when CIA had helped out in the anti-Huk campaign. Marcos appeared to be reassured.

Marcos then went on to express his concerns—as he has done before—over the alleged poor communications between his administration and the administration in Washington. To correct this deficiency, he proposed—and subsequently repeated the request three times—that Helms [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] establish direct contact with him. To establish the link he said [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] should get in touch initially with the notorious Kokoi Romualdez, [Page 399]his brother-in-law and campaign manager. Marcos said that he might have need of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]advice of some unspecified sort in the coming months. Helms ultimately said that he would like to help if he could but Nelson was not sure whether he had made a firm undertaking to establish the requested contact. The only other thing that transpired at this meeting was that the Filipinos managed to get Helms and Marcos to pose for photographs together.

Marshall Wright, the Country Director, expressed the gravest concern over the proposed contact which was patently intended by Marcos to give him political advantage [1½ lines of source text not declassified]. The proposed relationship would also undermine the position of the new Ambassador and, if established before he arrived, would put him in a particularly disadvantageous position. I supported Wright in all of this and added that it would be much easier not to establish the relationship than to break it off later. Godley, while recognizing the problems, thought that it would be very difficult to refuse to permit the President [1½ lines of source text not declassified]. Brown was a good deal more negative and wanted to find out more precisely how much of a commitment Helms had already undertaken to Marcos. It was agreed that once we had clarification of this point the matter would be discussed with the seventh floor and the Secretary or Johnson might thereafter want to pursue the question further with Helms. Meanwhile, Helms was to be informed of the concerns expressed at our level.

Brown and Godley subsequently saw Johnson who took the position that no contact should be established at least until it can be discussed with the new Ambassador—whose identity and ETA are un-known to Godley and me, and perhaps everyone else. Helms is being informed of this, and unless he has objections, there the matter will presumably rest.

Comment: I am virtually certain that CIA does not want to establish this direct contact for any private reasons of its own.

  1. Source: Department of State, INR Historical Files, Philippines, 1969, 1970, 1971. Secret. Drafted by Trueheart. Hughes initialed the memorandum, as did two others, to indicate that he had seen it.