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BI denies TMZ story, says Chris Brown still in PHL

The Bureau of Immigration on Thursday confirmed that American R&B singer Chris Brown is still in the Philippines, contrary to a report from celebrity news website TMZ that he was already "off the hook" and had "escaped" from the country.

Immigration spokesperson Elaine Tan said the 26-year-old singer has not left the Philippines after earlier being placed under a lookout bulletin, adding "there was no reported attempt to depart yet on the part of Brown."

Tan had earlier clarified Brown was not necessarily being restricted from leaving the Philippines, saying a lookout bulletin order is not like a hold departure order.

However, Brown needs to secure an Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) before leaving the country.

A source at the bureau said Brown has yet to apply for one.

TMZ earlier quoted Brown's legal team as saying Brown was already "off the hook with a Philippines concert promoter... [and had] sorted out the issues in the Philippines that got him held up at the airport."

The report added that Brown now faces another problem, this time in Hong Kong, where he was supposed to next hold a concert after Manila.

"His Hong Kong gig is supposed to be going off NOW, but we're told Chris is still in the air," said TMZ on Wednesday night (Manila time).

The TMX article carried the headline: "Chris Brown Escapes from the Philippines ... Screwed in Hong Kong."

The LBO against the American singer stemmed from a letter from Glicerio Santos IV, chief legal counsel of Iglesia Ni Cristo and chief operating officer of the Maligaya Development Corp. (MDC) requesting assistance from the Department of Justice "for the successful prosecution of the criminal complaint which MDC is lodging."

The MDC wanted Brown, who is Christopher Maurice Brown in real life, charged with estafa over his failure to appear in the INC's New Year's event concert on December 31 last year at the Philippine Arena.

Apart from Brown, also being accused of estafa under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code was promoter John Michael Pio Rada.

"After being paid for both their services, Mr. Brown failed to appear and perform at the concert, to the damage and prejudice of MDC," read the letter to the Department of Justice.

Brown was supposed to leave the Philippines Wednesday afternoon, but he was barred by airport authorities pending a clearance from the DOJ. —NB, GMA News