Less than 48 hours after they were arrested, a Philippine city prosecutor has dropped the charges against three Indians held by the police after a car they brought for servicing to an auto shop in Laguna was found to have been rigged with deadly C4 explosives.
Columbia City Prosecutor Noel Ocampo found "no probable cause" to charge Narinder Singh and his companions Rajeth Kumar and Jasbir Singh with illegal possession of explosives, according to their lawyer Ryan Muro.
Narinder, owner of the Toyota Avanza, had yesterday taken the vehicle for engine oil replacement to the Toyota service center in Alaminos, Laguna on Wednesday morning.
Muro said Narinder left the car shop with the two other Indians and went to the adjacent San Pablo City to renew his National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance.
A service mechanic called the police when he discovered the bomb, described as military-grade C-4 explosive rigged to a mobile phone as a trigger device, strapped under the car's engine.
The mechanic, acting on the directions of the police, called the car owner back to the shop on the pretext that a car part needed to be replaced.
"The mechanic told my client that cops would pick him up instead at the NBI office. My client actually found it more convenient that they didn't have to take public transportation back to Alaminos," Muro said.
When told about the bomb at the car shop, Muro said, Narinder took out his cell phone and called someone.
"A policeman later told me this scared them a little, thinking the phone call would trigger an explosion. But my client was on the phone for several minutes already and nothing happened," he was quoted as saying by Inquirer.net.
Nevertheless, the police arrested the three as part of the "protocol".
At the clarificatory hearing yesterday, the Indians insisted they did not know about the bomb.
"It looked like the bomb had been there for a while now because the tape used looked old and the battery of the cell phone, supposedly the trigger device, was already drained," Muro said.
He said Narinder, who spoke perfect Filipino for having been a resident of the Philippines for 15 years, believed business enemies might have tried to scare him.
"If he were planning an attack, why renew his NBI clearance?" Muro said.
Muro said the Indian nationals decided not to file counter charges but expressed dismay that they were immediately held as suspects.
"If a Filipino happened to own that car, his safety might have been the (authorities') primary concern," he said.