Philippine politician admits drug binge
Peter So and Patsy Moy
A popular congressman from the Philippines admitted taking cocaine daily to deal with personal pressures and depression.
Ronald Singson, 41, pleaded guilty in the District Court yesterday to one count of drug trafficking involving 14.8 grams of powder which contained 6.67 grams of cocaine when he travelled to Hong Kong on July 11. He was arrested at Chek Lap Kok airport while on his way to Macau.
Singson told District Judge Joseph Yau Chi-lap that the drug was for his own use and he had no intention of selling or sharing it with anyone.
But senior public prosecutor Virginia Lau Siu-yee said Singson might have intended to sell the drug, considering the amount that was in his possession when he was arrested.
Singson testified yesterday that he took drugs 'regularly and intermittently', and he consumed about five grams a day. So he needed to visit the washroom several times every hour, the court was told.
The congressman said he resorted to cocaine as a form of self-medication to treat depression and ease the pressures caused by the end of a relationship, financial losses and as a politician.
'I was trying to self-medicate. Now I know it is a very stupid thing to do,' he said. 'It [the drug] kept me awake and I did not think of my problems.'
Asked whether he would take the drug in front of other people, Singson said he usually took drugs alone.
He told the court he started taking cocaine in 2004, but only occasionally and in small amounts. He said he was able to control the habit and was not addicted. But things got out of hand in 2007, when he was first elected as a congressman.
The court heard that Singson had sought treatment from a psychiatrist for depression and insomnia, and he stopped taking the drug for about a year. He was re-elected for another three-year term in May and again became addicted to drugs. He suffered severe depression after his business lost money in recent years, while the pressure and workload of his duties as a congressman caused him stress.
Singson told the court that he had decided to visit Macau in July to try to escape the frustrations he was feeling after falling out with his girlfriend.
Speaking outside court, Singson said he would stay in Hong Kong until the trial was over. He admitted the case would hurt his political career regardless of the outcome.
Singson is the son of Luis 'Chavit' Singson, governor of Ilocos Sur province, whose testimony helped to oust former Philippine president Joseph Estrada on corruption charges.
Ronald Singson has been held in Hong Kong since his arrest. He told the court yesterday that he had been on a rehabilitation course in the city to help tackle his drug addiction.
Another District Court judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi had been presiding over the case but he removed himself after he received and read an anonymous letter that contained unproven allegations against the defendant.
The judge said he forwarded copies of the letter to the Department of Justice, the defence and the police.
The hearing continues today and Singson was allowed bail.