207. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1

[Omitted here is discussion of Vietnam.]

  • Ambassador Byroade’s Conversation with Marcos : Ambassador Byroade reported a rambling conversation with a very distraught and unnerved President Marcos,2 who made the following remarks:
  • —He wanted Byroade’s “active help”; Marcos said he might have to impose martial law, and wanted to know if Byroade would “stand behind him.”
  • —He asked advice whether to postpone the Constitutional Convention scheduled for 1971, and about speeded-up deliveries of helicopters and ammunition under MAP.
  • —He complained about the hostility of the Manila press.
  • —He asked why we cannot be more forthcoming with help, and at one point mentioned the figure of $100 million. (We have already turned aside requests for $450 million in stabilization loans over three years, and have pushed the GOP to deal with the IMF. We are providing a small PL 480 program, and U.S. banks and oil interests are giving some balance of payments relief.)

Byroade reacted cautiously to keep us from being drawn into this situation. He tried discreetly to suggest the need for social programs and land reform, and to head off drastic actions such as martial law.3

Byroade comments that the Philippines are used to our moving in to bail them out, and that Marcos probably thinks our present restrained position is punitive. He observes that Marcos is really afraid of a revolution, and that he is further unnerved by Chinese soothsayers’ predictions that he will die before June. Byroade himself thinks that the situation may get worse (the next student demonstration is scheduled for February 12, and there is a chance that labor may join it). Byroade thinks that Marcos’ best course would be to make a sweep of the Cabinet and to embark upon such reforms as he can afford. He [Page 441]points out, however, that a Philippine President who moved too fast might well be murdered by his own establishment.

Separately, Byroade makes a plea for the return to the Philippines of an American soldier who was allowed to slip out of the Philippines while in U.S. custody awaiting a Philippine trial. He thinks this issue (coming on top of another similar incident) could become explosive to our relations if the GOP should endeavor to exploit it to divert attention from its own problem. At the least, he says, this incident could wipe out all hopes of negotiating a satisfactory criminal jurisdiction understanding with the GOP. (Tab A)4

[Omitted here is discussion of items on the Republic of China, Israel, and Honduras.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 17, President’s Daily Briefs, February 2–10, 1970. Top Secret; Sensitive; Codeword. The memorandum is unsigned.
  2. Transmitted in telegram 1071 from Manila, February 6. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 PHIL)
  3. A marginal note in Nixon’s handwriting next to this underlined section beginning with “social” reads: “K—I doubt this line’s effectiveness.”
  4. The President highlighted this paragraph and wrote: “K—What are the facts?” Tab A was attached but not printed.