A former high-ranking Philippine diplomat was ordered jailed in Alexandria yesterday by a federal judge who refused to consider the man's claim that he was being persecuted because of his political beliefs.
U.S. District Court Judge Oren R. Lewis declined to consider Joselito Casilana Azurin's arguments that he was being sought by the Australian government because of his oppositionto the rule of Philippine Resident Ferdinand E. Marcos. Azurin, who defected to the United States in mid-1978, protested that an embezzlement charge placed against him this weekend by the Australians was politically inspired.
Lewis ruled that Azurin, who lives in Mclean with his wife and five children and is currently seeking political asylum here, had failed to show that he deserved to be freed on bond pending an extradition hearing.
Azurin, who was the Philippines' highest-ranking diplomat in Australia, told Lewis that if he is extradited to Australia to face the charge he will eventually be returned to the Philippines, a country he had denounced as "dictatorial."
Lewis said that in extradition cases, unlike other criminal proceedings, the burden is on the defendant to prove he should not be jailed.
The merits of the charge against Azurin, who allegedly cashed a check for $81,023.25 payable to the Philippine government, were not debated in court yesterday.
After the hearing, attorney Philip L. Kellogg said his client would "categorically" deny the charge and fight the extradiction request.
Raul C. Manglapus of Mclean, a former Philippine foreign minister and Marcos critic, claimed after the hearing that the embezzlement charge had been levied by the Marcos government as a "warning" to other diplomats not to defect.
Manglapus, who is president of the Movement for a Free Philippines, an anti-Marcos group based in Washington, testified yesterday on Azurin's behalf. The former cabinet officer offered to act as a "third-party custodian" for Azurin, an offer Lewis by his ruling declined.
In New York, Larry Cox, a spokesman for Amnesty International, an organization concerned with human rights, said yesterday that "we oppose the return to the Philippines of anyone who professes to be a critic of the government." Cox, said, however, that he knew nothing of the Azurin case.
Azurin, who testified that he is currently renting a house at 1406 Audmar Dr., McLean, told Lewis yesterday he had been working as a day laborer doing housework.Before coming to the Manglapus said after the hearing that a former Marcos adviser who also defected had been charged with a similar crime and later disappeared. A spokesman for the Philippine embassy could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The Philippines government in recent years has been criticized by a number of international groups that claim the Marcos government frequently violates civil and human rights and tortures political opponents.
United States he had spent 15 years as a Philippine diplomat.
On Aug. 4, 1978, he requested asylum in the United States as a political refugee, an application that is still pending. A State Department spokesman yesterday said that processing each is a lengthy process and delays are "not unusual."
According to Australian government papers filed in the Alexandria court, Azurin is accused of taking a check that a shipping firm gave him while he was charge d'affaires at the Philippine embassy in Canberra. The papers charge that instead of giving the money, a refund of an overpayment on a shipping contract, to his government, Azurin used it to purchase traveler's checks.
Most of the checks were cashed in Melbourne, Canberra, Los Angeles, Fiji and Sydney, the papers state. Two months later Azurin flew from Australia to Los Angeles, and entered the United States using his diplomatic passport, he told Lewis.
His family follwed several months later, he said. CAPTION: Picture, JUDGE OREN R. LEWIS . . . burden is on the defendant