301. Telegram From the Department of State to the White House and the Mission to the United Nations1

229132. For Dr. Brzezinski, Amb Young. Following telegram from Manila dated September 23, 1977 sent SecState WashDC is repeated to you:

Quote Secret Manila 15064. Nodis. For the Secretary from Holbrooke. White House for Brzezinski. Subject: Philippine Proposal That Mrs. Marcos Meet With President Carter at UNGA

1. At beginning of second day of talks,2 Marcos asked to see me alone. During one-hour conversation in which many other things were covered which will be reported septel,3 Marcos said that he was sending his wife to New York to head Philippine delegation to the UNGA. Romulo and Defense Minister Enrile will also attend.

2. He said that his Embassy in Washington had alerted him to President’s intention to have a limited number of bilateral meetings in New York. He had considered going to New York himself in order to [Page 993] meet the President, but had decided it would be better to send “the First Lady.” He then asked me if the President could meet with her in New York.4 He did not ask for her to be received in Washington.

3. I said that it was quite late and that the President’s schedule might already be full, but that I would relay the request to Washington immediately. I added that in any case, as head of delegation, Mrs. Marcos would have opportunity to meet the President in a luncheon meeting including other Asian leaders. This pleased Marcos.

4. A Presidential meeting with Imelda, (with Romulo also attending) has both pluses and minuses. Her power and authority are unquestionable and Marcos clearly indicated that he does not have full confidence in Romulo, whom he regards more as an ornament than a functioning Foreign Minister. Such a meeting would presumably focus on human rights and on a reaffirmation of the American commitment to the Philippines—the latter message would have considerable value throughout the region and a beneficial effect on the continuing discussions on our bases. The former subject, which cannot be avoided, is one where the President’s personal involvement might also prove helpful. (In this regard, Marcos also said he was planning to move early next year on “normalization”—i.e., elections.) On the other hand, such a meeting might not be regarded as carrying the proper symbolic qualities desired in a Presidential bilateral in New York, given Imelda’s general image.

5. Given the long history of US-Philippine relations, the importance of defining a more stable basis for the continued presence of the bases, the potential value of a personal discussion of the importance of human rights, and the negative impact of turning Marcos down, I would recommend that a short meeting with Mrs. Marcos and Romulo be scheduled if there is time available.

6. Marcos asked if it would be possible to have a reply before I leave, and said he attaches very high importance to the requested meeting. I said that I would not guarantee an answer before my departure (10 pm, Friday, September 23, EST), but that I would relay his request immediately. Stull Unquote

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, Far East, Box 11, 9–11/77. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Printed from the copy received in the White House Situation Room.
  2. A brief report on the second day of Holbrooke’s meetings with Marcos is in telegram 15120 from Manila, September 23. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770347-0344)
  3. Telegram 15119 from Manila, September 23. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770347–0536)
  4. Marcos met with Carter on September 29. See Document 305.