Exile postpones return to Manila

A Philippine opposition leader exiled in the United States has agreed to postpone his return to Manila. After wrangling with the Philippine government, which had requested he delay his return ''for at least one month,'' Benigno S. Aquino Jr. said he will return Aug. 21 instead of Aug. 8.

President Ferdinand Marcos and Defense Secretary Juan Ponce-Enrile have been trying to prevent Mr. Aquino's return after four years in the US because they think he might spark increased political opposition. Mr. Aquino is charged with conspiring to overthrow the Philippine government and warrants for his arrest have been issued in Manila. The government's official reason for asking him to delay his return was that there may be plots to assassinate him in the Philippines.

Aquino says the Philippine government has taken extraordinary steps to block his return trip, including sending threatening memorandums to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, reports staff writer Julian Baum. The government has detailed actions - including fines and possible removal of Philippine landing rights - which it is prepared to take against Japan Air Lines if Aquino's reservation is honored. Aquino's US visa has expired, and the Philippine government has not acted on his request for a one-way travel document despite personal appeals to President and Mrs. Marcos.

For the past three years, Aquino has been a research associate at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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