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


  • Renegotiation of the Military Bases Agreement with the Philippines

In response to your request of last autumn, the Under Secretaries Committee has come up with the outlines of a negotiating stance with regard to base rights in the Philippines, and has approved some preliminary conclusions concerning the base land issues.

In short, the Committee came to the following conclusions:

  • Base Lands. USAF holdings in the Philippines alone exceed all other USAF holdings in foreign countries. It was agreed to relinquish 36% of the holdings at Clark and to consider further relinquishments there. The naval base at Sangley will be given up as soon as the need for its Vietnam support effort ceases. Part of the Navy’s 36,000 acres at Subic Bay should be relinquished, following a watershed survey. Camp John Hay (Baguio) will be retained unless the GOP insists on its return. These relinquishments will be offered during the course of negotiations to gain Philippine acceptance of points vital to us on other issues, and thus will not be offered at the beginning of the negotiation.
  • Tenure. The Bases Agreement runs until 1991. Such agreements with other countries usually have a one-year termination clause, comparable to the mutual defense treaties. The Committee agreed that the unstable political situation in the Philippines argues against offering such a one-year clause. However, if the Philippines press us on the Agreement, consideration will be given to reducing the length of its validity and/or agreeing to a termination clause.
  • Criminal Jurisdiction. The Agreement itself is similar to other agreements, but the GOP seldom waives its jurisdiction, whereas other countries regularly do so. Problems concerning fair trial, the conditions of imprisonment, etc., generate unique problems in the Philippines. It was agreed to study ways to improve procedures and relations with the Philippines on this sensitive issue, but to place a high priority on retaining our present rights in this delicate area.
  • —“Filipinization” of the Bases. Detailed proposals will be developed to permit the Philippines a role in immigration, health and customs procedures on the bases, to provide for selective joint use and possibly to effect a symbolic joint command of the bases. In these respects, our present Agreement is less liberal than with most other countries.

It was agreed some of the most persistent Philippine complaints relate not to the Base Agreement itself, but to other aspects of our military relationship. On the 1953 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement, the Filipinos have a point. We have controls not duplicated elsewhere— for instance, the GOP can purchase military equipment from third countries only with our approval. A specific proposal for renegotiation of that agreement, to bring treatment in line with our other allies, will be developed and cleared by the Under Secretaries Committee. Negotiations on this agreement could be dovetailed into the Bases Agreement negotiation at a later stage.

The GOP periodically suggests that it wishes to renegotiate the 1952 Mutual Defense Treaty to get a more explicit commitment from us. The Committee agreed that we would suggest to the GOP, if the issue arises, that renegotiation would be impractical and might be counterproductive.

The Philippines have hinted that they would like to renegotiate our economic agreements concurrently with the military ones. Their enthusiasm for this course of action may be diminishing, however, as they begin to realize that they cannot demand economic concessions for continued military agreements, as they have done in the past. The Committee agreed to keep these negotiations separate if possible.

The attached memorandum suggests that we will hold up negotiation of the Military Bases Agreement while we analyze the impact of proposed personnel reductions on our relationship.2 This is inaccurate. There will of course be a connection, but no proposal to defer the Base negotiations was actually agreed among the Under Secretaries, and in fact State is proceeding to develop specific negotiating instructions and to authorize our Embassy in Manila to begin negotiations.

The GOP will probably wish to defer formal negotiation for Philippine domestic reasons. This is not a matter of great concern, since our willingness to negotiate will be documented by our offer, and this alone takes much of the sting out of the aspects of our military relationship which are unfavorable to the Philippines.

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There is no need for any decisions on your part at this time. I will continue to keep you informed as the negotiating scenario develops.3

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 557, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. III. Secret. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. See Document 218.
  3. Circular airgram CA–2879 to Manila and CINCPAC, May 23, informed the addressees that the U.S. Government would be “ready shortly” to inform the Philippine Government that it was prepared to begin negotiations and requested their comments and recommendations. More specifically it asked the Country Team to make detailed studies “of concessions we could offer the Philippines to Filipinize the bases,” of “joint-use proposals we offer the Philippines in the course of negotiations,” and of “nominal joint command proposals” that could be offered. Finally, the Country Team was requested to “make a detailed study of base and watershed requirements to determine what specific proposals for relinquishment of acreage” at Clark AFB and Subic Bay Naval Base “could be tabled in the course of negotiations.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 15–4 PHIL–US)