One Direction pays 'marijuana bond' to Philippines, Zayn Malik to return to UK

Manila (AFP) - British pop phenomenon One Direction paid a cash bond to the Philippines on Thursday that was imposed because of drug concerns, allowing them to play two concerts this weekend, the immigration bureau said.

The bond, 200,000 pesos (S$6,200) each for singers Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson, will be forfeited should the two get caught using or promoting illegal drugs, Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Elaine Tan told AFP.

Updated reports from The Guardian also say that Malik will not be completing the band's current world tour due to "stress". According to the group's publicist, the singer is returning home to the UK despite a line up of three more concerts in Asia.

"Zayn has signed off with stress and is flying back to the UK to recuperate," said the group's spokesperson. "The band wish him well and will continue with their performances in Manila and Jakarta."

The bond requirement was in response to an anti-drug watchdog group's request for "strict scrutiny" of Malik and Tomlinson before they were issued work permits, she said.

"The condition is intended to protect the public interest should the band members commit any violation during their stay in the Philippines," she said.

A video of Malik, 22 and Tomlinson, 23 apparently smoking marijuana in a car while on tour in Peru went viral last year and shocked the tattooed but baby-faced quintet's hordes of female fans.

The group is scheduled to hold concerts at the seafront grounds of the Philippines' largest mall, which can accomodate tens of thousands of people, on March 21 and 22. This comes after a well-received concert in Singapore on March 11 at the Sports Hub.

Tickets for the first night in Manila have sold out and the second date is expected to sell out as well, Gina Santiago, an executive assistant of the group's Philippine promoter, Ovation Productions, told AFP.

When asked about the reported marijuana bond, Santiago said the band's promoters were at the immigration department on Thursday to "sort out" the issue and the concerts would go ahead.

However she was unable to confirm that a bond had been paid.

One Direction, one of the world's biggest pop music acts, is very popular in the Philippines. The group currently has five albums on the local iTunes album chart.

Marijuana is illegal in the Philippines, a mainly Catholic country where the Church continues to maintain a strong influence on society.