189. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Philippines1

52387. For AsSecDes Green.

This is round-up of Marcos visit Washington2 based on uncleared memos or readouts of all the Marcos conversations except his private talk with President Nixon.3
From the Philippine point of view, we believe the visit was a smashing success. Marcos met with the President, Vice President, Secretaries Rogers, Laird, and Finch, a group of Senators,4 Henry Kissinger5 and Director Helms.6 We understand Marcos left convinced that he stands well with the Nixon administration, that the U.S. Government is not and will not be involved in supporting his opponents in the upcoming election, and that we appreciate reasons and have sympathy for his recent statements about the need for a more self-reliant Philippines and a more independent Philippine foreign policy.
The visit thus served our purpose in removing or allaying the extreme suspicions and fears which have been so evident recently in Marcos’ attitude toward us.
From a longer run point of view, however, the visit had about it an unreal air for all the discussions were focused on what the Philippines want from us. Meetings obviously arranged at last minute, U.S. participants hard pressed for time and there was little or no discussion of our specific current problems in the Philippines, such as Science tax, Customs negotiations, validity of 1965 amendment to bases agreement, PNG problem, territorial seas, etc.
On substantive points (as distinct from atmospherics) Marcos placed great stress on his balance of payments problem and the resulting GOP desire for: (a) ensured repatriation of dollars earned by overseas Filipino employees; (b) tight controls over dollars spent by the U.S. Government and U.S. personnel in Philippines so that dollars stay out of black market and end up in GOP reserves; (c) need for U.S. sympathy and cooperation in GOP limiting non-essential imports (automobiles, textiles, tobacco, etc.)
We indicated that we thought we could be helpful in several ways. We mentioned possibility of “lipsticking” U.S.G. social security and Veterans benefits checks as one example. In subsequent rather confused exchange with newsmen at press conference Marcos indicated he thought we might “lipstick” dollar payments to U.S. military personnel stationed at Philippine bases. He also seemed to think that U.S. was paying Philippino base employees in dollars. In short, Marcos was pleased with what we said, but seemed quite unclear about specifics. Should this come up, suggest you make point that “lipsticking” would apply only to U.S. benefit checks issued to Philippine residents. You might also make the point that it would be easier for us to be helpful on the whole problem of dollar control if Marcos could put an end to the GOP attempt to impose in violation of the military bases agreement the Science tax on privately owned vehicles of our military personnel in Philippines. That matter is arousing considerable adverse Congressional reaction, and creates climate in which dollar control measures are more difficult to establish and to enforce.
Marcos discussed Laurel–Langley extensively. He stressed that withdrawal of U.S. preferential treatment for Phil products in U.S. market would result in severe economic damage to Philippines. He said withdrawal of sugar quota would cause collapse of sugar industry. At Marcos’ request, Secretary Rogers agreed that U.S. would do nothing to raise this issue this year or to publicize possible U.S.G. unwillingness extend tariff preferences beyond life of Laurel–Langley. This is based on our assumption (not made explicit by Marcos) that GOP will defer further consultations on Laurel–Langley until 1970.
Conversation with Helms reported extensively in another channel which you should see. In unlikely event question of direct contact comes up, urge that you avoid any statement. (Matter still under consideration here.)
Marcos raised with Kissinger the possibility of the withdrawal of PHILCAG, and suggested that the Philippines might concentrate instead on helping GVN develop an effective constabulary, possibly through training in the Philippines. Should this be raised, suggest you defer any comment beyond possibly mentioning importance of a united front in Vietnam at this stage and wondering rhetorically [Page 402] whether thought had been given to whether GOP would continue as a TCC under such a program.
Secretary Rogers and Marcos discussed possibility of visit by Secretary to Manila in June or July. Should this come up, suggest you reply that you aware of Secretary’s desire visit Manila, but that when you left Washington his schedule was tight and plans not worked out.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 7 PHIL. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Wright, cleared by James M. Hawley (S/S) and Richard Sneider (NSC), and approved by Godley.
  2. Marcos had numerous meetings with U.S. officials in Washington during the first 4 days of April despite the fact that the Embassy in Manila was advised that “it would be extremely difficult” to make arrangements for them because “U.S. officials will be very much occupied” with the funeral of President Eisenhower. Telegram 48924 to Manila, March 29, advised that Australian Prime Minister Gorton’s March 31 official visit had been cancelled, and stated that although “we would not want to discourage Marcos from attending” the funeral, “it should be made clear to him that it would be most difficult if not impossible to combine ceremonial attendance at funeral with a working visit.” (Ibid., POL 6–2 US/EISENHOWER, DWIGHT D)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 187.
  4. No other record of these conversations has been found.
  5. See Document 187.
  6. See Document 187 and footnote 2 thereto.