198. Memorandum From John H. Holdridge of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Ambassador Byroade’s Conversation with President Marcos on PHILCAG
    Withdrawal

In the middle of the Sullivan meeting, November 14, Marshall Green asked me to leave the group in order to read a telegram which had just come in via back channels from Ambassador Byroade in Manila.2 This telegram (Tab A) concerned Byroade’s approach to Marcos to inform him of an impending move on State’s part to preempt the Symington Subcommittee by announcing in advance of Symington that we had paid allowances to the PHILCAG during its stay in Vietnam. (Byroade’s instructions had also been sent by back channel.)3

Byroade reported that Marcos was already planning to issue a statement on November 15 which would cover the points State wished to be made; namely, that these allowances had been paid by the US in order to prevent diversion of Philippine resources from badly needed internal development programs. However, it emerged from the conversation that Marcos had not felt under any obligation to use the funds we gave him for the PHILCAG directly, but had actually used it for purposes such as “security matters.” Marcos mentioned in this connection the expenses involved in Philippine peacemaking efforts, travels of emissaries (he mentioned Paris and Hanoi), and efforts in South Vietnam to make contact with the Viet Cong, etc. Marcos left Byroade with the impression that Marcos would try to portray himself as an Asian leader who, like President Nixon, had always been striving for peace in Vietnam and who also had engaged in activities such as those revealed by the President in his November 3 speech.4

Byroade was not sure just what of all this would emerge in the light of day in Marcos’ November 15 statement. It seems highly possible, though, that some of Marcos’ machinations may indeed be [Page 424]revealed. If so, this would be embarrassing to the President, since Marcos might try to make it appear that his efforts to contact the North Vietnamese were done with the President’s consent, and also would be embarrassing to State if it appeared that the money which we gave to Marcos in support of the PHILCAG was used for other purposes. On this latter issue, Marshall Green called in Philippine Ambassador Lagdameo and in my presence explained the problems which use of our funds for purposes not connected with Philippine economic development or allied projects would cause for us with respect to the Symington Subcommittee. What nobody appeared to notice, or at least wanted to mention, was the possibility that Marcos used the funds given him for his own personal political activities. As you know, one reason he gave for recalling the PHILCAG was that the Philippine Congress did not vote any funds for its support. This could turn out to be a real mess for everybody.

Ambassador Lagdameo left the session with Marshall Green 5 assuring us that he would try to touch base with Marcos in advance of the release of the November 15 statement to make sure that everything was properly squared away. We now can only wait and hope.6

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 556, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. II. Secret. Sent for information. Kissinger wrote on the first page: “What finally happened?” with an arrow back to Holdridge’s initials.
  2. Backchannel message 851 from Manila, November 14, attached but not printed.
  3. Not found.
  4. For text, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1969, pp. 901–909.
  5. Details of the meeting between Green and Ambassador Lagdameo were transmitted in telegram 192677 to Manila, November 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 6 PHIL)
  6. Following up on Kissinger’s question as noted in footnote 1 above, Holdridge informed Kissinger in a November 25 memorandum, that “Marcos has now denied that our funds had been granted as a quid pro quo for PHILCAG. He said that he had received some special funds from us, beginning in early 1965, which had been used for national security and intelligence operations too classified to discuss. He did not suggest that they were used to defray his expenses as a go-between.” Holdridge also reported that there had not been a lot of Philippine congressional and press interest in the story. A stamped notation on this memorandum reads “HAK has seen, Dec 20, 1969.” (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 556, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. II)