MANILA, Philippines—Three Britons and an Australian who were arrested earlier this year by Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson after he reportedly caught them smoking marijuana inside his house in Quezon City, pleaded not guilty in court Thursday to the drug charges.
British nationals James Gates, brothers Jack and Ross Barnaby McLeod, and the Mcleods’ half-brother, Australian national Arthur Murray Nash, face charges of violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court’s Branch 227.
They entered their not guilty plea before Judge Elvira Panganiban through their lawyer Elizabeth Macaibay who waived the reading of the information against her clients.
Based on court records, the four foreigners were reportedly guests of the governor’s son Christian Singson at his house in Corinthian Gardens on Jan. 13 when his father arrived.
The older Singson said he carried out a citizen’s arrest when he caught them smoking marijuana.
During the arraignment, Macaibay told the court that the governor, whom she described as the “sole witness” to the alleged crime, had submitted an affidavit to the city prosecutor to say that he would no longer pursue the drug charges against the four men.
The judge, meanwhile, assured the lawyer that the court would take note of the older Singson’s statement as she set the joint pretrial and trial of the case on Aug. 14.
At the same time, she reminded the accused to ensure that they would be present at the next scheduled hearing to avoid the revocation of their bail bonds as well as the issuance of arrest warrants against them.
The judge also ordered that the forensics chemist from the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory and investigator PO3 Alex Palmenco of the Quezon City Police District’s Eastwood station be issued subpoenas for the next hearing.
Following the foreigners’ arrest in January, Assistant City Prosecutor Irene Resurreccion found probable cause to file drug charges against them despite their insistence that no drugs were found in their possession.
In their counteraffidavit, the accused claimed that the only items seized from them during the citizen’s arrest made by Ilocos Sur governor were tobacco and a cigarette. They also stated in their sworn statement that they were friends with the governor’s son.
Resurreccion, however, cited the results of laboratory tests carried out on the accused as the basis for her decision to recommend the filing of drug charges against them in court.—With Bernadette Nicolas