A career Philippine diplomat who was in charge of his country's embassy in Australia has flown to the United States and declared his intention of seeking political asylum.
Joselito C. Azurin, a 15-year veteran of the Philippine foreign service, said yesterday he is taking the action because of the "dictatorial and ruthless" policies of the government of President Ferdinand Marcos. Azurin said he hopes to remain in the Washington area and participate in the Movement for a Free Philippines, an anti-Marcos group working abroad.
The Philippine embassy here, in a statement by Deputy Chief of Mission, Mario C. Bellsario, said Azurin had been ordered to return to Manila after a request from the Australian government that he be recalled. Belisario said there is no basis for asylum here because the Azurin case is "purely administrative, not political."
Azurin agreed that he had been ordered to return to Manila but said that "as far as I know" there had been no request for his recall by the Australian government. He said rumors of such a request were denied by Australia's chief of protocol following a controversy involving his defense of Filipino maids employed by diplomats in Canberra.
According to Azurin, among the contributing factors in his decision was a conflict with the incoming Philippine ambassador to Australia, the sister of Maj. Gen. Fidel Ramos, head of the Philippine National Police and reaction to Azurin's criticism of the fast diplomatic rise of the son of another prominent general.
Because of the Marcos regime "I have been undergoing mental torture. I have been bothered by my conscience," Azurin said. He said "the last straw" had been the Philippine elections held in April, which he charged were fraudulent.
The former diplomat said his wife and five children are planning to join him in Washington within a few days.