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

9155. Ref: Manila 9147.2

This man Marcos is a chess player, par excellence. It is usually possible to predict that he will choose as his next move one of two or three options that seem open to him—yet we cannot be certain just which one of these the next sealed envelope will contain.
You should read above reftel which describes Marcos’ interview with Durdin of New York Times that he has decided to settle our investment problems in the Philippines by Presidential decree. We have speculated here in my staff that Marcos might in fact make this move. It would tend to prove to the opposition party and all else concerned that he had our backing in his declaration of martial law. Any disclaimer by us, other than out-right public denunciation of him (absolutely out of the question at this time in our own best interests) would be entirely futile. We have almost come full-circle in the scenario discussed with my staff immediately following the Supreme Court decision re Quasha as reported in Manila 8424 of Sept 7.3 There have been deviations along the way, including some alteration of time tables, but the basic theme therein remains.
While it would be a great relief to see our investment problems solved, or greatly eased, I cannot help but have mixed feelings over the fact that Marcos would proceed on these fundamental matters by Presidential decree. If he could have maneuvered the Supreme Court into handling at least two of these problems in our behalf, it would have been much better for us. Had he done so, of course, only a very few of my staff and the readers of these restricted series of messages would have known that he was our benefactor. For the viewpoint of Marcos, with his desire for our continued acquiescence to his recent moves, and with the hope that we could move quickly to full support, this probably was not good enough. He would conclude that he should move now, without any other quid pro quo, to obtain this type of support in New York and head off opposition from our Executive Branch and perhaps our Congress.
The decrees that he will make will predictably be sensible and good in themselves even for the Filipinos, as they will clear the air of very real recent obstacles to the future of foreign investment, not only our own, in the Philippines. But in doing it in this way, if Marcos fails in his efforts over, say, the next year, conditions might be such that any successor government might well reverse with vengeance every decree that he had made. Thus he has made one more very effective move in keeping our fortunes tied together.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 557, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. IV. Top Secret; Priority; Nodis.
  2. Telegram 9147 from Manila, September 27, reported Marcos’ decision to settle some of the economic issues with the United States by Presidential decree. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, FN 9 PHIL–US)
  3. Not printed. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 557, Country Files, Far East, Philippines, Vol. IV)