Julian Roberto S. Ongpin, a person of interest in the Sept. 18 death of artist Breanna “Bree” Jonson, asked the La Union regional trial court (RTC) to dismiss the illegal possession of dangerous drug filed against him by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
On the day Breanna died, the police recovered 12.6 grams of cocaine, a dangerous drug, on the bed in the hotel room rented by the couple a day before the artist’s death.
The recovery of the drug led the police to file illegal possession of dangerous drug against Julian under Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The police said that both Breanna and Julian tested positive for cocaine use.
“The evidence relied upon by the DOJ does not establish probable cause that accused was in possession of the Subject Drug,” Julian’s
“Without proof that accused had free and conscious possession of the dangerous drug, or what is referred to as intent to possess or animus possidendi, the DOJ’s claim of ‘constructive possession’ has no factual leg to stand on,” the lawyers said.
The non-bailable case for illegal possession of dangerous drug filed against Julian was raffled to RTC Judge Romeo E. Agacita Jr. of Branch 27 in San Fernando City in La Union.
Judge Agacita was the same magistrate who issued a precautionary hold departure order (PHDO) against Julian when the charge for illegal possession of dangerous drug was under preliminary investigation by the DOJ prosecutors in Manila.
Son of businessman and former Trade and Industry Minister Roberto Ongpin, Julian’s lawyers also told the RTC that “the Subject Drug was not found in the possession of the accused” and was only found inside a pouch that was recovered on one of the two beds of the room.
They said Julian had already denied he owned the pouch and “the DOj had no evidence that the accused had knowledge of the existence of the presence of the pouch and bag where the Subject Drug was found.”
At the same time, the lawyers said the DOJ justified the lack of police adherence to the chain of custody under Section 21 of RA 9165.
“Again, the DOJ Resolution concedes that the police did not strictly adhere to Section 21 of Republic Act 9165, as amended. However, it found that the police provided the justifications or explanation therefor as well as the steps they have taken in order to preserve the integrity and evidentiary value of the seized/confiscated items. This is impermissible,” they stressed.
They said that should the RTC judge deny their motion to dismiss the case, the court should “issue an order for the DOJ to present additional evidence within five days from notice to establish probable cause against the accused.”
Also, they pleaded the court to defer the issuance of an arrest order against Julian.
They said that Julian has yet to file his motion for reconsideration or petition for review that would seek to overturn the Oct. 18 resolution the DOJ prosecutors.
“Accused, therefore, implores the Honorable Court to afford him a chance to avail all remedies in the preliminary investigation of this case and respectfully moves to defer the issuance of a warrant of arrest during the period within which he may still file a motion for reconsideration or a petition for review from his receipt of the DOJ’s Resolution,” the lawyers pleaded.
They said that Julian has yet to receive a copy of the resolution and only learned about it through online news.
They pointed out that it was still premature for the DOJ to file the case before the RTC since, as declared by the Supreme Court (SC) in a past ruling, “without first affording the accused his right to a motion for reconsideration, is tantamount to a denial of the right itself to a preliminary investigation.”
“Hence, if there is a pending motion for reconsideration or motion for reinvestigation of the resolution of the public prosecutor, the court may suspend the proceedings upon motion by the parties,” they stressed.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra had ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe Breanna’s death.
The NBI has yet to come out with the result of its probe.