199. Telegram From the Embassy in the Philippines to the Department of State 1

11818. 1. I had opportunity yesterday with Marcos alone to discuss in general terms our approaches to forthcoming negotiations. My remarks followed very closely the previous discussion with Romulo reported in detail Manila 111492 and in interest of brevity I will not repeat herein my opening remarks. They were perhaps more sharply focused this time on the dangers involved in negotiating through the press with large and high-ranking negotiating panels.

2. Marcos in general, like Romulo, said most of the things that I wanted him to say but seemed to have more apparent conviction than had Romulo. He said he had already taken some steps in this direction by telling the main members of the panel that he personally was going to make the decisions and that he did not want each of them playing the press in his own behalf. He went so far at one point as to speculate that perhaps we should not start out negotiations with publicly known meetings at all, but have the members of the technical panels meet quietly to see how far they could get before higher levels become involved.

3. I found general approach of Marcos quite encouraging. He said they were not really prepared as yet to handle matters of such importance and he wanted to put a damper on any idea of “immediate” talks. He said he felt that February was really too soon and at one time mentioned mid-summer. He also said that he thought we should allow time for passions to cool down and hoped for a better atmosphere under which to conduct the talks. He said he had told the policy council that he wanted no more statements about Americans being evicted either from the bases or from their economic interests in the Philippines. He also said he did not want to push us on matters on which we on our side might not be ready. He made reference in this regard to trade policy and evidenced some concern over President’s recent speech re Latin America.

4. Marcos said he was making Defense Secretary Mata head of the technical panel on military matters, assisted by Alex Melchor. It was interesting that he remarked that if Mata did not remain in the cabinet he [Page 426]would be replaced on the panel by General Yan. I told him I thought this was very good, as, while we might not necessarily agree, it would be very easy for us to quickly understand each other with such personalities.

5. Marcos at one point mentioned Washington in connection with Laurel–Langley discussions. He also at one time referred to the desirability to wait a while before getting into such touchy subjects as “vested rights” on the part of American business here. His remarks on this subject could have implied that he preferred a negotiated settlement on this issue as he once referred to what proportion of present American holdings (presumably land) would be a fair and equitable settlement. I am not sure just what he meant on this and there was not time to explore further.

6. I mentioned the problem of negotiating on some of these matters with the prospects of constitutional changes hanging over our heads due to the coming convention in 1971. Marcos said this was indeed a matter that concerned him. He said he sometimes thought it might be better to delay completion of some of our negotiations until we could see what the composition of the convention delegates would be. He said that once he could look at the slate of delegates he felt he could almost know in advance what they would come up with. I jokingly remarked that he would have me at a disadvantage there as he could make such a judgment while I could not.

7. While all of Marcos’ remarks indicated that he wanted delayed, quiet, and sober approaches to be made on all items of negotiation between us for the sake of eventually arriving at a sound and durable basis for our future relationships, I have a feeling that something unsaid was also on his mind. The Philippines are in a desperate financial situation and he, of course, is fully aware and conscious of their predicament. I think, repeat think, he will hope that we can go into a quiet period without new issues between us for a while in the hopes of our financial assistance. On my part I hope he may try to tamper down reaction here to the forthcoming release of the Symington testimony with this in mind.

8. It probably will appear that his super-active moves of this week (PHILCAG, today’s coming statement on Symington, etc.) give a contrary impression to my above analysis. Please bear in mind, however, that Marcos’ motives as of today is to do almost anything he can think of in order to dominate press coverage and get Osmena and LP charges and accusations re the elections off page one of the press. Please bear this in mind over the next few days as you judge his moves and statements.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 15–4 PHIL–US. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to CINCPAC, CINCPACREPPHIL, COMNAVBASE Subic, and to the Commander of 13th Air Force.
  2. Dated October 24. (Ibid.)