229. Telegram From the Embassy in the Philippines to the Department of State 1
9074. 1. Mrs. Marcos called Rafferty at 6:30 a.m. this morning asking that an appointment be arranged with me sometime today. I saw her for about an hour and a half beginning at 2:00 p.m.
2. After small talk about her trip, I received, in general, the same presentation she had made so often in Washington as reported in State 159948,2 and I will not therefore repeat it here. It was I think a somewhat altered presentation in that at times she was extremely frank about some of the aspects of the convention that worried her, particularly on personalities involved, including those in their own camp.
3. I attempted to use the occasion to accomplish three specific things. One was that I thought she had gone a little too far in exciting Washington that the Philippines was on the doorstep of becoming another Chile. She took this well, but in the discussion I began to realize that she was personally more convinced that the dangers were real than I had thought would be the case. She is obviously extremely tense, has lost considerable weight, and is in a generally emotional state. She carried on at great length about the weaknesses of the Nacionalista candidates in the upcoming election. At one time she referred to some of them as “unattractive tribal leaders” who would be incapable of matching the eloquence of the opposition in the convention itself, and that many of them that she would consider reliable would be very bad vote getters indeed, and put on quite sorry campaigns. I believe that this is a belated recognition that she and Marcos did not work hard enough to convince the right people to run, and on this point, at least, I think she was being quite open and honest.
4. Another thing I sought to do was to try to make her understand why huge amounts of cash from America at this time were not only impossible due to severe budgetary limitations, but out of step with policy in Washington as well. I told her that Washington was taking very seriously the Nixon Doctrine, and that “multilateralism” was a strongly held view in Washington from the President on down. As a practical matter, I said that even had we been able to pull the development funds out of the safe that she had asked for, most would feel [Page 488]that this would have been an unkind act for the Philippines itself. It would have dislodged and ruined the whole IMF exercise, the formation of the consultative group, and even upset their current workable relations with U.S. private banks. I told her of the very encouraging meeting in Paris (of which she was uninformed) and said that Washington was sure that this route was better, not only under our own conditions at home, but in the long-term interest of the Philippines itself. She was encouraged by the news from Paris but stressed over and over again that in the next few weeks, in particular, they needed signs of direct American support. I told her we would do what we could do (Can we for instance speed up action on PL–480 program?).
5. A third thing I had in mind was to try to prevent her from making any more statements to the press that would imply huge American assistance. She gave me a skillful reply on what was needed at the moment in the Philippines. She does understand her people very well, but unfortunately has a rather dismal ignorance on how things work for us at home. I told her I was already extremely worried about her exclusive interview of Sept 29 with UPI, in which she had come very close indeed to directly quoting our President, with approval and support, and had in the same interview ticked off a number of items which totalled approximately $900 million. She read the account and gave her explanation that it was somewhat distorted and she had not meant this to be the case. I cautioned her against further encounters with the press in which she could be represented as saying such commitments had been made. I said that it was not improbable that our President might be publicly asked by hostile members of our Congress if these commitments had in act been made. This could, of course, lead to a highly embarrassing situation. There is no doubt that she got the point and realizes that there is indeed a direct conflict between the postures she feels are important for her to assume here at the moment and our own method of doing business. I hope this will tone down her future statements.
6. When I returned to the office we had received the press release of the consultative group in Paris and its accompanying reftel. This has received no publicity in Manila, I suppose because of no Philippine news presence in Paris, and inadequate diplomatic reporting. I am taking this to the President within the hour in the hopes that he will see desirability of playing this in a constructive light here. More will follow.
Postscript: I have just returned from seeing Marcos. He was most appreciative of CG press release and was taking action as I left to give it full play in the Philippines. As time was running out on him, if it was to get heavy coverage in the influential Sunday press, I did not take up other items.