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

6187. Subj: Secretary’s Talks with Marcos

In the brief interval after arrival of Secretary Rogers here and his call on Marcos, we had opportunity with Pedersen and Green present to run through the bilateral subjects that might come up, with particular attention to the subject of a possible state visit. The Secretary had had the opportunity of reading report of my last conversation with Marcos on this subject transmitted to Department as Manila 6085.2
The Secretary decided that he and I would go alone to Malacanang and I got this word to Marcos prior to our arrival. When we arrived only Romulo was with Marcos. After the photographers had left Marcos indicated that he would appreciate a short time with the Secretary alone and the two of them went into the inner library. They stayed alone for the full hour that Marcos allotted to us. (Other heads of delegations were scheduled every 15 minutes thereafter.) In the meantime, Romulo and I occupied ourselves with current business and enjoyed the company of Mrs. Marcos for a portion of that time.
What follows herein is my own summary of the debriefing the Secretary had the time to give me, and which he had indicated conveys the substance on the main substantive points. It lacks obviously finer points and nuances which it may be possible for me to obtain from the Secretary later on as his schedule permits.
The most important point to emerge was that the proposed state visit for Marcos in August is indefinitely postponed. Marcos took the initiative on this subject, raising some of his own doubts about the wisdom of his absence here in August, and wondering frankly what practical results could come out of the visit at this time, despite the fact that he would personally very much like another opportunity for discussions with our President. The Secretary indicated that, while he knew from President Nixon personally how much he would welcome such a visit, that the timing did indeed raise some problems on our side. The Secretary mentioned upcoming election period in the United States, the sensitivity of matters affecting the Far East now in our relations with the Hill, etc. This led Marcos to suggest that maybe it was not very good timing for either of us. In the discussion that followed as to exactly how to leave the matter, the Secretary suggested that really nothing need be done in any public sort of way, as it had never become public knowledge that such a trip had been tentatively planned. Marcos said this was quite agreeable with him.
They both agreed that it would be extremely important that there be no leaks that a visit had been planned but postponed. In the event of unfortunate leaks it could, of course, be quite truthfully said that it was certainly the desire of our President to see President Marcos on a state visit and the matter had been discussed from time to time with no decision as to possible timing (I would like to add my own recommendation that all concerned quietly cross off the possibility of a Marcos visit on August 19 and ensure that there be no leak or comment about it). It was the Secretary’s own impression that Marcos was not personally disappointed at the thought of an indefinite postponement, and in fact may have been somewhat relieved.
There was general discussion on the reduction of forces in the Pacific area to somewhere near pre-Tonkin levels as the situation would [Page 475]permit. It appears to me that the Secretary did a very good job on this and that Marcos accepted the philosophy that this was really a part of a process that America should go through in order to be certain that the administration could keep the support of the Congress and the country for maintaining those forces abroad that would be actually necessary for vital security interests. The Secretary talked about reductions to be made elsewhere in the Pacific. I feel that this subject went well. He did not, of course, get into actual figures for the Philippines, which I will handle later on with Marcos as they become known.
The Secretary expressed our appreciation to Marcos for the many instances of late in which he personally had lent the support of his office to making conditions around our bases better for our own forces. The Secretary took note of the fact that, as I had told him earlier, we were nearing the point of being ready to undertake base negotiations at his convenience. Marcos made a rather interesting comment that he thought our troops would be happier in the Philippines if they used their leave opportunities to travel more in the Philippines away from the base areas, where conditions were bound to be some-what abnormal. He said the average Filipino liked Americans, and it was a pity that most of the troops never saw anything of the Philippines except the bar-infested areas outside the base gates. (The President may be thinking of the benefits of tourism, but there is no doubt in my mind that he made a very good point on this one.) Marcos gave the impression he was really in no hurry on base negotiations, and would just as soon see them postponed for a while.
There was some general discussion of Laurel–Langley problems with both sides apparently agreeing that there seemed no need to attempt any early negotiations on that matter as well. Marcos did mention his concern again over the sugar quota and the Secretary said that there would be every desire on the part of his department to be helpful to the Philippines as this problem came up, but that as Marcos knew other departments and the Congress itself were in the last analysis probably most important in the decision making process. Marcos said he appreciated the statement of support from the Secretary on the part of the Department.
Marcos indicated that he hoped the Philippines could get more military assistance from the United States in the future so that they could handle to the greatest possible extent their own security problems. He said he thought that the army could handle the limited type of internal security problems that now face the Philippines, but that their capability at present was really very little greater than that, and their navy and air force was practically non-existent. He said he fully shared, what he understood to be President Nixon’s view, that nations should be more self-reliant on such matters, but that the Philippine [Page 476]financial situation would prevent them from moving forward much further without assistance. The Secretary said that, within the increasingly tight budgetary restrictions upon the administration, Philippine requirements would of course continue to receive sympathetic consideration.
There was no specific discussion on any future amount or type of possible U.S. assistance to the Philippines.
The Secretary tells me that the talks were extremely friendly and frank throughout and it appeared to me that the talks went well. Marcos certainly seemed to be in a good mood as they emerged and rejoined Mrs. Marcos, Romulo and me.
The Secretary has asked me to add to this message his personal desire that all elements of State involved in a possible Marcos visit ensure that the matter die as of now without leak or comment. He also asked that this particular matter be explained to the White House staff so that they will realize the desirability of no leak or no further mention of such a possible visit.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 557, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. III. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Rogers was in Manila to attend the 15th Annual Council Meeting of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).
  2. Telegram 6085 from Manila, June 30, reported Rogers’ discussion with Marcos, including the postponement of the latter’s August visit to Washington and the reduction of U.S. forces in the Pacific. (Ibid.)