217. Paper Prepared For the Under Secretaries Committee1


  • Revisions in U.S.-Philippine Military Bases Agreement and Other Relationships

I. Statement of Requirement

A. Revision of the U.S.-Philippine Military Bases Agreement, As Amended, of 1947

The President by Mr. Kissinger’s memorandum of October 20, 1969 directed the Under Secretaries Committee to make two studies:

A comparison of the 1947 U.S.-Philippine Military Bases Agreement with similar U.S. arrangements elsewhere, in which the objective would be to bring U.S. privileges and immunities in the Philippines down to a level comparable with rights we enjoy elsewhere. [Page 460]Particular attention was to be given to the questions of length of tenure and criminal jurisdiction procedures.
A comparison of the extent of U.S. base holdings in the Philippines with those we hold elsewhere, with a view to the releasing of Philippine baselands surplus to our needs.

These studies were to be preliminary to an early invitation to the Philippines to renegotiate the Military Bases Agreement.

B. The Mutual Defense Treaty of 1952 and the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement of 1953

The Philippines has advised us that in any discussion of the 1947 MBA they will wish also to discuss certain aspects of the 1952 Mutual Defense Treaty and the 1953 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement. Therefore, in addition to answering the specific questions raised in Mr. Kissinger’s memorandum, the IG has formulated recommendations on issues involved in these agreements.

II. Issues and Positions

There follows a statement of the steps which this study discloses are desirable, together with a statement of areas where views are divided. The USC is requested to approve recommendations that are unanimous and make decisions where differences exist.

The IG, concentrating on the areas of tenure, criminal jurisdiction and base operating rights, has concluded that with a few exceptions the U.S.-Philippine Military Bases Agreement is broadly comparable with our arrangements elsewhere.

A. Tenure

The Philippine bases agreement runs to 1991; most of our other agreements are on a one-year terminable basis, and run concurrently with mutual defense treaties.

Divided Position

State recommends that the MBA be put on a one-year terminable basis to bring it into conformity with those we have elsewhere.

DOD does not concur with the State recommendation because DOD does not believe such a change is necessary or desirable.

A decision is required.

B. Criminal Jurisdiction

In this area, the provisions of the Philippine agreement are about comparable with those we have elsewhere.

Unanimous Position

Both State and DOD agree that the principal features of the existing arrangement should be retained and that anticipated GOP [Page 461]demands for exclusive jurisdiction over all offenses either off-base or both off-base and on-base and pretrial custody should be opposed.

However, this conclusion may well be unacceptable to the Philippines unless changes in the manner the SOFA actually operates could make our position more palatable and the IG will be studying existing SOFA procedures to see if any modifications can be devised to make this decision more acceptable.

C. Base Rights and Operating Rights

Some of our agreements give slightly greater rights to host countries in such matters as the posting of host officials on the bases than the Philippine Agreement does.

Unanimous Position

State and DOD agree that the U.S. should consider permitting the posting of appropriate Philippine officials on the bases to perform or oversee normal immigration, health, customs and other administrative functions.

Divided Position

State recommends that the U.S. also consider establishment of some form of nominal joint command of the bases. DOD does not concur.

A decision is required.

D. Selective Joint-Use of the Bases

Short of full joint-basing, there appear to be possibilities for offering the Philippine Government a broader role in utilization of the bases through selective joint-use in specific circumstances in which U.S. operational control of the bases would not be compromised.

Unanimous Position

State and DOD agree on the utility of a study of joint-use proposals prior to the initiation of negotiations; and that the IG will forward any recommendations developed by such a study to the USC.

E. Baselands

The study shows that the extent of Air Force baselands in the Philippines far exceeds such holdings in any other country. The study indicates Navy baselands can also be reduced.

1. Clark

Unanimous Position

State and DOD agree on relinquishment of a part of Zone D acreage (47,250 acres in all).

[Page 462]

State and DOD also agree in principle that relinquishment be considered of portions of Zone A (28,350 acres) and Zone B (10,650 acres), following a land use survey to determine watershed requirements.

2. Sangley

Unanimous Position

State and DOD agree on reversion of Sangley when the requirement for its Vietnam-related support efforts ceases.

3. Subic Bay

Unanimous Position

State and DOD agree on reversion of a portion of the 36,124 acres at Subic following a watershed survey.

4. John Hay

Unanimous Position

State and DOD recommend retention of John Hay unless the GOP insists on its return.

F. The 1952 Mutual Defense Treaty

The Philippines may raise the issue of the 1952 mutual security treaty in the course of the base negotiations. Presumably the Filipinos will seek, as they have in the past, to obtain a more explicit commitment from the United States to come to their defense than that contained in the treaty.

Unanimous Position

State and DOD agree on the need to tell the Philippine Government when they raise this question that any effort to renegotiate the treaty would be completely counterproductive, especially, given the mood of the U.S. Senate.

G. 1953 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement

The Philippines may raise the issue of MAP administration procedures and JUSMAG organization and privileges. These are nagging irritants which the Philippines have long wished to solve. In 1966 the Philippine Government drafted (and the U.S. rejected) a new draft Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement in which a drastic reduction in JUSMAG prerogatives was proposed along with a countervailing increase in Philippine authority and independence of action, particularly with regard to freeing the Philippine Government from obtaining JUSMAG concurrence on each MAP procurement. The Philippine draft agreement also sought removal of the present injunction in paragraph 15 of the 1953 agreement that arms and other military supplies can only be obtained from third country sources with explicit U.S. approval.

[Page 463]

These may be important considerations for the Filipinos. It is possible that U.S. concessions in this area may relieve Philippine pressures for concessions in other areas, particularly in criminal jurisdiction where there is little give in the U.S. position. Accordingly, the IG has assigned itself the task of determining specific revisions in the Military Assistance Agreement that might be responsive to Philippine needs.

Unanimous Position

State and DOD are agreed that specific ideas for revision of the Military Assistance Agreement should be forwarded to the Under Secretaries Committee.

H. Laurel–Langley

The Filipinos would like to have simultaneous negotiations on the MBA and the 1955 Laurel–Langley Trade and Investment Agreement, under which the U.S. and the Philippines enjoy mutual advantages. (The Laurel–Langley Agreement is due to expire in 1974.) The Philippines wishes to retain tariff preferences in the U.S. market and a sugar quota in a successor agreement to Laurel–Langley. They may seek to tie extension of U.S. base rights to obtaining equivalent Laurel– Langley concessions.

Unanimous Position

We would prefer not to have combined negotiations on the MBA and Laurel–Langley. However, if it should occur that we were otherwise making trade concessions in the Laurel–Langley context, we might try to use these to get concessions from the Filipinos on base matters, as well as in the context of favorable investment provisions for American capital.

I. Likely Impact on the Negotiations of Presidential Directives to Reduce U.S. Military and Civilian Personnel in the Philippines

By Mr. Kissinger’s memorandum of March 25, 1970, the President has directed a one-third reduction of U.S. military and civilian personnel stationed at Clark Air Base. A one-quarter reduction of U.S. personnel of all U.S. military and civilian agencies elsewhere in the Philippines was also directed.

The likely impact on the military bases negotiations of personnel reductions of this magnitude will be to increase Philippine demands for more financial offset to counter the negative effects these cuts will have on their balance of payments. Since U.S. base spending totals about $150 million annually, it seems evident the reductions will entail a loss to the Philippines of the order of $50 million annually.

Unanimous Position

State and Defense are now analyzing the impact of the President’s directive, particularly its effect on the Philippine balance [Page 464]of payments. We anticipate the reductions will have an adverse impact on the negotiating atmosphere for the talks on the MBA and related matters.

J. Timing

The Philippines is not presently ready to enter into MBA or, indeed, other negotiations. It would be advantageous, nevertheless, for the U.S. to take and keep the initiative with regard to demonstrating our readiness for negotiations.

Unanimous Position

State and DOD are agreed that the U.S. should take the initiative with the GOP by offering to negotiate an MBA that would be comparable to modern Asian SOFAs; however, it is agreed that in making such an offer no mention be made of our willingness to relinquish baselands.

  1. Source: Department of State, NSC Under Secretaries Committee: Lot 83 D 276, Box 7813, NSCU/SM 51B—4/7/70—US Philippine Bases Agreement Revisions. Secret. This study was prepared by the East Asia Interdepartmental Group, which was charged with studying the Military Bases Agreement revisions. According to an April 7 memorandum from Hartman to the Deputy Secretary of Defense and other principals of the Under Secretaries Committee, this issue paper was prepared to “facilitate discussion on this topic” at the Committee’s April 9 meeting. Circular Airgram 2879 to Manila and CINCPAC, May 23, reported that the Under Secretaries Committee endorsed the East Asia Interdepartmental Group’s proposed revisions at the April 9 meeting. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 15–4 PHIL–US) No memorandum of conversation of the Under Secretaries Committee has been found.