308. Letter From President Carter to Philippine President Marcos1

Dear Mr. President:

I am very encouraged by your letters of September 24 and 25,2 and by recent exchanges between our two governments. They convince me that we can improve even further the close and cooperative relationship the Philippines and the United States have long enjoyed.

I am pleased that David Newsom will soon take up his new assignment as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines. I regard him as my personal representative in working with you to resolve the central issues in our relationship. He has my full confidence.

We must now build on the general understandings that have been reached on several key issues. First, the United States Government understands that sovereignty over the bases rests with the Philippines. My predecessor, President Ford, affirmed this understanding to you in Manila in December 1975.3 I reiterated that view to Mrs. Marcos [Page 1011] in New York on October 5,4 and have no hesitation about affirming it publicly.

Second, I agree that we need to examine the adequacy of current planning for the defense of the Philippines. Your proposal for a broad analysis of mutual defense efforts to meet potential external threats to the Philippines has merit. I have asked the Department of Defense to recommend ways our two governments could conduct such an analysis. I look forward to your own further thoughts as to how we might best proceed. Let me assure you again that the United States Government considers the Mutual Defense Treaty to be binding upon us, and that we will fulfill our obligations under the Treaty. I welcome your own affirmation that the Philippines is prepared to discharge its own responsibilities under this partnership.

Third, I understand your desire to increase your self-reliance in defense matters. We are prepared to move forward with a joint assessment of Philippine defense requirements. Out of such an assessment—beginning with the definition of Philippine priorities which we understand is now being prepared—specific recommendations regarding air defense requirements, improvement in radar coverage, and the provision of other materiel can emerge. Our Department of Defense is prepared to send a team to Manila at an appropriate time to assist in the review of your requirements. We will try to respond to your legitimate needs in this area consistent with our world-wide arms transfer policy. Naturally, I appreciate your recognition of our budgetary limitations.

I hope that Ambassador Newsom can work closely with you in reaching further agreement on these and other issues in a spirit of mutual benefit and mutual respect. The warm welcome you recently extended to U.S. emissaries to the Philippines, and the messages Mrs. Marcos and your officials brought to the United States make me share your belief that our close ties will grow. I am especially pleased by your declared intentions to advance human rights in the Philippines. I look forward to working closely with you in our pursuit of these many shared goals.


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 39, Philippines: 1977. No classification marking.
  2. See Documents 302 and 303.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 307.
  4. See Document 305.