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

19158. Subject: US Posture with Marcos Relative to Student Crisis. Ref: Manila 1071.2

We commend way you handled delicate conversation with Marcos, avoiding being drawn into position of giving him advice as to specific decisions he faces, while at same time being willing to discuss with him nature of problems with which he is now confronted. We agree that it is desirable for you to continue to maintain Marcos’ confidence. Your conversations with him will provide an opportunity for you, without making any specific recommendations, to review events and show the pros and cons of various possible courses of action. Such talking out of the issues should also help Marcos maintain the necessary degree of composure and balance.
Believe you should continue to try to maintain this posture during this volatile period of uncertainty as to how the various forces at work are motivated and will operate in the immediate future. We believe we must try to keep the United States as much as possible from being drawn into involvement or appearance of involvement in this crisis. Thus, if you were to give Marcos specific advice, he might then let it be known that in his future actions he was acting on American advice, thereby involving us directly. On the other hand, by keeping in touch with him and helping him to analyze his situation as objectively as possible, you may be able at the same time to play a role in restraining him from ill-considered actions.
The situation requires, more than ever before, that we take every precaution to avoid incidents of any kind which might direct the focus of Philippine unrest and anger against the United States or any elements of its presence in the Philippines. No doubt you will be cautioning U.S. military and civilian components that they must exert extreme care and restraint to prevent incidents involving Americans.
We here will be doing everything we can to support you and your highly capable team in your best judgments as to how we should proceed.3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 13–2 PHIL. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Usher on February 6; cleared by Moore, Green, and Eliot; and approved by Under Secretary Elliot L. Richardson.
  2. Dated February 6. (Ibid., POL 15–1 PHIL)
  3. Telegram 21459 to Manila, February 11, informed Byroade that the Philippine Government and the IMF had reportedly reached agreement on a $27.5 million third credit tranche. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 556, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. II)