Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

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Harry S. Truman
1945-1953


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Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.
  176. Letters to the High Commissioner to the Philippines and to the Heads of Federal Agencies Recommending Measures for the Assistance of the Philippines  
October 26, 1945

[ Released October 26, 1945. Dated October 25, 1945 ]

To the High Commissioner to the Philippines:
My dear Mr. High Commissioner:

In the provinces near Manila thousands of share croppers organized some years ago to demand a more equitable division of the product of their labor. For several years there was no effective solution of the problem. During the war the tenants organized a guerrilla army which reportedly did good work against the enemy. After the enemy was defeated in their localities, they did not disband and today they constitute a special problem which threatens the stability of government. On the other hand, their legitimate claim to fair treatment and the assistance they rendered in resistance to the enemy require that they be not dealt with in a ruthless manner.

I therefore request you to order a prompt investigation of agrarian unrest in the Philippines with the cooperation of the Commonwealth Government, and to recommend the remedies or reforms which ought to be taken by the Commonwealth government and by the United States Government.
Sincerely,
HARRY S. TRUMAN


[The Honorable, The High Commissioner to the Philippines, Washington, D.C. ]

To the Alien Property Custodian: My dear Mr. Markham:

The United States Army has found and taken custody of considerable valuable property belonging to enemy nationals in the Philippines. Enemy property includes agricultural leaseholds held through "dummies". It is desirable that all property in which the enemy has or had interest should pass under the civil control of the United States government which is responsible for its custody under the usually accepted terms of international law.

I therefore direct that the Alien Property Custodian vest title in all enemy property in the Philippines and make lawful disposition of it. Should these operations extend beyond the date of independence, I shall endeavor to arrange by treaty, or otherwise, for the completion of the processes of vesting and liquidation.
Sincerely,
HARRY S. TRUMAN

[Honorable James E. Markham, Alien Property Custodian, Washington, D.C.]

To the Attorney General:
My dear Mr. Attorney General:

While the mass of the Filipino people and many of their leaders remained staunchly loyal during invasion and rendered invaluable assistance to our arms, it is necessary to admit that many persons served under the puppet governments sponsored by the enemy. Some of these, especially those engaged in health and educational work, remained at their posts of duty with an evident intention to sustain the physical and cultural welfare of their people. Others of the clerical and custodial services continued in office in order to earn their accustomed livelihood and participated in no way in enemy policy. But, regretably, a number of persons prominent in the political life of the country assisted the enemy in the formulation and enforcement of his political policies and the spread of his propaganda. Others in the field of trade and finance seized upon the occasion to enrich themselves in property and money at the expense of their countrymen.

Reports have appeared in the press which indicate that a persons who gave aid and comfort to the enemy are now holding important offices in the Commonwealth government. Reports further indicate that the Commonwealth government is only beginning to investigate, charge, and try the offenders. It is essential that this task be completed before the holding of the next Commonwealth general election.

Considering that disloyalty to the Commonwealth is equally disloyalty to the United States, I request that you send experienced personnel to the Philippines to discover the status and to recommend such action as may be appropriately taken by the United States. Such recommendations should be made through the United States High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands. I am further requesting that the Secretaries of War and Navy direct the staffs of their intelligence sections to cooperate with you and make available to you all records and evidence bearing on this important problem.

Representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation assigned to the Philippines should be directed to report through the United States High Commissioner in connection with this and other operations in the Philippine Islands.
Sincerely,
HARRY S. TRUMAN

[The Honorable, The Attorney General, Washington, D.C.]

To the Secretary of War:
My dear Mr. Secretary:

As a result of prolonged enemy occupation of the Philippines the law enforcement agencies of the Commonwealth Government were seriously disorganized. Bearing in mind the fact that the War Department was responsible originally for the organization of the Philippine Constabulary, which had such an excellent record prior to the war, I believe that the War Department should assist in every possible way by the assignment of officers and men and the transfer of necessary equipment in reorganizing the Constabulary on a non-military basis.

President Osmena has advised me that the War Department has already been of assistance in this task and that considerable progress has been made by the Commonwealth Government. Both he and I feel, however, that continued assistance until the reorganization is completed would be helpful.

I ask that this continued assistance be extended to the Commonwealth Government so that law and order may be fully restored in the shortest possible time, and that you submit a report to me as soon as a program has been formulated.
Sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN


[Honorable Robert P. Patterson, Secretary of War]

Memorandum for the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War:

It is my understanding that due to a shortage of legal currency in certain areas in the Philippine Islands early in the war and continually thereafter until the reoccupation of the islands by our forces, a considerable quantity of emergency currency was issued, some by properly authorized officers of the United States Government and some by representatives of the Philippine government. It would appear that to the extent that this currency was used either directly or indirectly for the prosecution of the war, its redemption is a responsibility of the United States Government.

I request that the War and Treasury Departments make a careful analysis of this situation and submit recommendations as to the necessary steps which should be taken to discharge the obligations that are properly responsibilities of the United States Government. Any arrangement proposed for the redemption of this currency should include provisions designed so far as possible to avoid any windfall to speculators.
HARRY S. TRUMAN

To the Secretary of the Treasury:
My dear Mr. Secretary:

During the period of their military invasion of the Philippine Islands, the Japanese issued an unbacked fiat peso and tried unsuccessfully to force its parity with the legitimate Philippine peso. The issue was so unlimited that it came to be worthless, and upon our landing in Leyte it was officially and quite properly declared not to be legal tender. However, during the invasion period it had a rapidly declining value as a medium for local trade, and numerous contracts which involved the enemy currency were settled or entered into. While it would be against the public interest to validate completely these contracts and settlements, a measure is needed to serve as a standard for judgments between debtors and creditors.

Since you have representation in the Philippines through a mission of the Foreign Funds Division, I request that you cooperate with the High Commissioner and the Commonwealth Government in drawing up a schedule showing the relative trend of the purchasing power and exchange rates of the Japanese Philippine peso during the period of invasion.
Sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN


[The Honorable, The Secretary of the Treasury, Washington, D.C. ]

To the Surplus Property Administrator: My dear Mr. Administrator:

Prolonged enemy occupation and active warfare in the Philippine Islands have left in their wake a tremendous problem of relief and rehabilitation. It seems apparent that there must be large supplies of surplus government property now available which could be used to great advantage in the Philippines in the program which must be undertaken there by the Philippine Government. Such items as construction equipment, medical supplies and hospital equipment are badly needed.

Where such supplies can be used directly by the government of the Philippine Commonwealth, I believe this Government should make the supplies available without cost to the Commonwealth. It might perhaps be desirable to arrange the transfer on such terms as would prevent the property from being later offered for sale to the general public.

Since there is at present no legal authority to effect such transfers, I believe we should seek such authority.
Sincerely,

HARRY S. TRUMAN


[Honorable W. Stuart Symington, Surplus Property Administration, Washington,
D.C.]

To the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs:
My dear General Bradley:

In connection with a general program of reestablishment of orderly government in the Philippine Islands and the discharge of just obligations of the United States Government therein, I request that the Veterans' Administration make a careful analysis of all phases of past and current benefits payable in the Philippine Islands to American and Filipino veterans, and submit to me at the earliest possible date a report which should be accompanied by recommendations for any new legislation which may be required.
Sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN


[Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs ]

To the President of the Export-Import Bank:
My dear Mr. Taylor:

In connection with the rehabilitation of the Philippine Islands and the restoration of the normal economic life of the Islands, I believe that the Export-Import Bank should participate in this program. It should, it seems to me, be possible to work out a program to operate in the Islands on a purely business basis which would be of great assistance in restoring normal economic conditions.

May I have your comment on this suggestion, and in the event that you feel that the bank is at present without legal authority to function in the Philippines, your suggestions as to steps that might be necessary to permit it to do so?
Sincerely yours,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

[Honorable Wayne C. Taylor, President, Export-Import Bank of Washington]

To the Administrator of the War Shipping Administration:
My dear Admiral Land:

In connection with the rehabilitation of the Philippines and the restoration of normal economic life of the Islands, I am very anxious that all possible steps, consistent with our obligations elsewhere, be taken to supply adequate shipping to the Philippine Islands.

I would be glad to have a statement from you as to the plans of the War Shipping Administration and the amount of tonnage which is expected to be available for Philippine trade, particularly in the near future.
Sincerely yours,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

[Vice Admiral Emory S. Land, Administrator, War Shipping Administrationl

To the Chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation:
My dear Mr. Chairman:

The almost complete lack of consumers goods in the Philippines-goods ordinarily imported from the United States--has brought about serious price inflation and black markets which cause great distress among the people. An excellent start has been made by the Foreign Economic Administration in cooperation with the War Shipping Administration to eliminate inflation by facilitating normal import trade.

You are, therefore, requested to direct the United States Commercial Company to use resources and personnel within its jurisdiction to continue and to advance the Philippine program which it has undertaken, and, where necessary, to sell goods on credit terms not exceeding two years in duration.
Sincerely,
HARRY S. TRUMAN

[Honorable Charles B. Henderson, Chairman, Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Washington, D.C.]
 
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.