DOJ prosecutors, not those in La Union, will investigate drugs case vs. Ongpin

Published September 24, 2021, 4:35 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice

The illegal drugs case filed against Julian Roberto S. Ongpin, also a person of interest in the Sept. 18 death of artist Breana “Bree” Jonson in La Union, will now be investigated by the Office of the Secretary of Justice Prosecution Staff (OSJPS).

The transfer of the investigation from the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor (OPP) of La Union to the OSJPS was contained in Department Order No. 229 dated Sept. 24, 2021 and issued by Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar said Secretary Guevarra’s order “designated a panel of two prosecutors from the OSJPS to conduct the preliminary investigation of the complaint and to file the corresponding information/s (criminal charge sheets) in court if warranted by the evidence.”

“For this purpose, OPP La Union was directed to immediately transfer the entire records of the case to the OSJPS,” Villar said.

Preliminary investigation conducted by the police showed that Ongpin, son of former trade and industry minister Roberto V. Ongpin, and Jonson checked in at a hostel in San Juan town. On Sept. 18 Jonson was found unconscious inside the room. She was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Both Ongpin and Jonson tested positive for illegal drugs use. The police recovered 12.6 grams of cocaine on Ongpin’s bed inside the hostel room.

Ongpin was charged with illegal possession and use of dangerous drugs. But the La Union prosecutor’s office ordered his release pending further investigation. He was ordered to file his counter-affidavit in 10 days.

Before the issuance of DO 229, Secretary Guevarra “the state prosecutors of the DOJ will now take over the preliminary investigation of this case” (Ongpin’s illegal drugs case).

Guevarra said “the case has generated a lot of public interest, so I want to make sure that it is handled very well.”

“The Prosecutor General as head of my prosecution staff will designate the state prosecutors who will handle the preliminary investigation of the case,” he said.

The Ilocos Regional Police Office (PRO-1) admitted on Friday, Sept. 24, that they were now clueless as to the whereabouts of Ongpin, who was last seen by the police last Tuesday, Sept. 12.

Police Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta, PRO-1 regional director, said in a radio interview:

“Sa ngayon, hindi ko alam kung nasaan siya (Right now, I don’t know where he is). Hindi ko alam kung nasa bahay nila, sa Manila, o sa Baguio (I don’t know if he’s in their house, in Manila, or in Baguio) but we are trying to contact him.”

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar had assured that the police will be impartial in the conduct of their investigation. He said they were considering two angles behind Jonson’s death: suicide and homicide.

“Wala pa naman po tayong kongklusyon at hindi natin isinasantabi ang foul play. Makakaasa po kayo na tayo ay magiging transparent sa kasong ito (We have yet to issue a conclusion and we do not rule out the possibility of a foul play. Rest assured that we will be transparent in this case),” Eleazar also said.

Please read:

Police clueless where Julian Ongpin is

Law firm says other bruises found on Bree’s body; PNP releases CCTV footage

Bree Jonson’s body shows signs of struggle, family lawyers claim