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


  • 40 Committee Consideration of Philippine Constitutional Convention Issue

At the 40 Committee meeting on September 242 the issue was discussed of the Philippine Constitutional Convention and its possible implications for the U.S. national interest. It was decided that it would be undesirable to have radical or left-wing elements take over the Constitutional Convention and draft a constitution which, as Mrs. Marcos suggested to you, might turn the Philippines into a social democratic welfare state or a Marxist state.

It was also recognized, though, that we do not now possess enough information to make judgments on how to proceed in this matter, and [Page 486]that a number of questions would need to be answered on the basis of information furnished by informed sources in Washington and in Manila. These questions are:

  • —What do we want to achieve?
  • —What elements should we back? (In this respect, it was agreed that backing supporters of President Marcos in the November 10 elections for delegates to the Convention would be preferable to seeing a leftist victory. Alternatively, however, we might wish to back a moderate group if one is identifiable because of the public criticism directed at Marcos over his rigging of the election which gave him his second term.)
  • —How do we provide our assistance?
  • —What should be the magnitude of our assistance?

At your direction State was tasked with preparing a study of the implications of the Constitutional Convention and the elections of delegates.3 These specific questions, however, were not addressed. The 40 Committee will meet again on October 6 to review the answers and to submit the findings to you for a decision.

On the subject of assistance to the Philippines in rural electrification, it was determined that some help might be provided prior to the November 10 elections. A statement on U.S. assistance might be made or financing of some type provided through the World Bank. Under Secretary Johnson will speak to Mr. McNamara on this last point. Follow-up steps will also be discussed at the October 6 40 Committee meeting.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 557, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. III. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. According to a September 25 memorandum from Holdridge and Kennedy to Kissinger, the memorandum was prepared at Kissinger’s direction. A notation on an attached covering memorandum reads: “Sent to Pres. 10/2/70.” A notation on the covering memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. The minutes are in the National Security Council Files, Nixon Intelligence Files, Minutes of 40 Committee Files, September 24, 1970.
  3. The Department of State study, October 2, stated that “Mrs. Marcos is the only person who professes to believe that the Philippine Constitutional Convention will be controlled by leftist elements. In fact, there are few observers who believe it will not be controlled by President and Mrs. Marcos.” (Ibid.) The study was prepared in response to a September 22 memorandum from Davis to Eliot. This attached covering memorandum stated that “the President has asked that State prepare an analysis of the Philippine Constitutional Convention and its possible outcomes, particularly the possibility that it will be controlled by leftist elements. This analysis should include Ambassador Byroade’s appreciation of the situation.” (Ibid.) Assistant Secretary Green also sent a letter to Kissinger, September 24, stating that he had heard that Mrs. Marcos had told the President that “we in Washington didn’t seem to know about the Constitutional Convention” and “that I had not known anything about it when she talked to me last Sunday” and seeking to correct this matter “for the record.” (Ibid.) Kissinger replied to Green on October 13, stating in a postscript that he had mentioned Green’s letter to the President who “has no illusions about the lady and a great deal of confidence in you.” (Ibid.)