MANILA, Philippines – Grammy-winning hip-hop star Chris Brown was cleared to leave the Philippines late Friday, July 24 an official said, after he was temporarily barred from exiting the country over a row with a powerful religious sect.
The 26-year-old American – who was stuck in Manila for two days – secured an emigration clearance certificate (ECC) stating he has no legal obligations in the Southeast Asian country and was free to leave, immigration spokeswoman Elaine Tan said.
“ECC was issued… today,” Tan said in a text message to Agence France-Presse.
In a brief video posted to his official Twitter feed Friday night an exuberant Brown is seen walking towards a plane, apparently headed to his next gig in Macau.
“Manila it was fun, love y’all man,” the rapper says. “If you’re free to come to Macau – party tonight!”
Brown, who performed to a packed crowd at a Manila arena on Tuesday, July 21 was barred from leaving the Philippines after the politically-connected Christian group Iglesia ni Cristo filed a fraud complaint against him.
The group said it was owed a million-dollar-plus refund after he failed to show up for a concert sponsored by them last year. (READ: Chris Brown promoter Mike Roda detained by Immigration)
Social media appeals
The stranded singer took to social media this week insisting he did nothing wrong and begging to be allowed to leave the country in a colourful string of posts.
A playful, bewildered Brown posted a foul-mouthed rant on his Instagram on Thursday as he break-danced apparently to make light of his predicament.
But his tone was more serious on Friday as the upcoming stops of his world tour – including the Macau concert – drew nearer.
“Please, please, let us leave, please,” Brown said in one video posted on his official Instagram account, showing him on his knees inside what appeared to be his hotel room.
The plea was captioned “OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!” in what appeared to be a call for help to the US president, and ended with the singer doing his signature backflip. The post was later taken down.
In another Twitter post Brown said: “I have nothing to do with anything going on right now. I came back to Manila to do a make-up show for New Years. I did the show three days ago.”
Immigration spokeswoman Tan did not say what would happen with the fraud case after the rapper leaves the country.
The sect that lodged the complaint is a minority in the Philippines – where 80 percent of its 100 million people are Catholics – but wields considerable political clout.
It has between two and 3 million members according to media and votes as a bloc during elections.
Brown is scheduled to perform in Israel, Cyprus and the Netherlands next week before returning to the US for a 25-city tour starting on August 12, according to his website.
The Brown saga was the latest case of Western entertainers riling Filipino groups and politicians.
The Beatles were stripped of police escorts at the end of their 1966 Manila tour after they snubbed a party invite from the then Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos’ flamboyant wife Imelda Marcos.
The Fab Four were forced to run a gauntlet of angry fans as they boarded their plane.
Michael Jackson was forced to move his concert venue in 1996 after the mayor of Manila refused to host his show due to child molestation charges against the US star.
In 2012, flamboyant American pop star Lady Gaga’s show was closely monitored by state censors for blasphemous imagery.
Last March, two members of British boyband One Direction who were known to have smoked marijuana each paid a safety bond before they could perform. – Joel Guinto, AFP/Rappler.com