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

SUBJECT

  • The Philippine Constitutional Convention

At your direction the 40 Committee has three times2 met to discuss Mrs. Ferdinand Marcos’ urgent request to you for covert financial support to President Marcos in connection with the November 10, 1970, elections of delegates to the Philippine Constitutional Convention to be held in June–July 1971.

Independent assessments of the prospects of the Convention being dominated by communists and radical leftists, as feared by Mrs. Marcos, were requested and received from Ambassador Byroade [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Manila.3 Neither believes that anything is likely to happen during the forthcoming elections which confirm Mrs. Marcos’ foreboding. In addition, in a recent conversation with Ambassador Byroade, President Marcos himself stated that he does not share Mrs. Marcos’ concerns.

The consensus is that President Marcos will want to and can quite adequately dominate the Convention through pro-Marcos delegates and is already moving to assure the election of delegates who will support him. He will probably be successful in this endeavor without any U.S. help. Marcos-backed delegates are likely to constitute the single largest voting bloc in the Convention.

As of now there are some 2600 candidates for 320 delegates positions to the Convention. Information presently available on approximately 1800 of these candidates leads to the conclusion that the majority are moderate in their outlook on issues which affect U.S. interests. Of the 1800 candidates studied, there are less than 20 who can be classified as radical left or communist. Intelligence available at this juncture indicates that Marcos, without any further effort, can be expected to emerge from the November elections with a minimum of 100 Convention delegates responsive to his dictates.

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The principal knowledgeable concerns expressed over problems that Marcos might face during the election and ensuing Convention generally stem from his tendency to over-kill and the resentment that such an approach generates.

Based on the above, the 40 Committee concluded that involvement in the forthcoming elections of delegates to the Philippine Constitutional Convention is inadvisable. The Committee also agreed that following the election there should be a careful assessment of those through whom we might work effectively in furtherance of U.S. interests during the Convention should circumstances then so dictate.

I will follow up on this and see that appropriate proposals for any action at the Convention are submitted to the 40 Committee for consideration.

  1. Source: National Security Council Files, Nixon Intelligence Files, Subject File, Philippines. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for information. A notation indicates the President saw it.
  2. The 40 Committee meetings were held on September 24, October 6, and October 14. (Memoranda for the record; ibid., Minutes of 303 Committee, September 24, October 6, and October 14, 1970)
  3. Document 231.