Discovery of Julian Ongpin’s cocaine incidental, says Ilocos Police

Published November 17, 2021, 10:43 AM

by Jerick James Pasiliao

The Ilocos Regional Police Office (PRO 1) clarified that the discovery of illegal drug items of Julian Ongpin was incidental during a police operation on Sept. 18, following the death of artist Bree Jonson.

In an official statement issued on Tuesday, PRO 1 emphasized that the police response was not a drug operation.

“Our first responders belonging to San Juan Municipal Police Station, La Union Police Provincial Office, and eventually the SOCO team that processed the crime scene promptly responded to the call for police assistance from Flotsam and Jetsam Hotel regarding an alleged dead person on Sept. 18,” it said.

This development came after the La Union Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27 junked the drug case filed against Ongpin on Monday, Nov. 15.

In a 12-page order, RTC Judge Romeo Agacita Jr dismissed the violation of Sec. 11 of the Republic Act 9165 commonly known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 case against Ongpin.

“The court is constrained to dismiss Criminal Case No. 14154 for lack of probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest against accused Julian Roberto Ongpin, in view of the utter non-compliance of the requirements of Sec. 21 of R.A 9165,” Agacita said.

Police investigators were able to recover some 12.6 grams of cocaine inside Ongpin’s room at a resort in San Juan, La Union where he shared with artist Bree Jonson.

It was also the same room where Jonson was found dead inside the bathroom on Sept. 18.

Ongpin was named as a person of interest in Jonson’s death.

“Unfortunately, the RTC did not consider these circumstances that led to the dismissal of the drug case. This is a very uncommon or peculiar case,” PRO 1 statement added.

The court said the police failed to immediately mark the confiscated illegal drug items during the seizure.

“Such flagrant lapse in the chain of custody puts into serious doubts the evidentiary value and integrity of the seized items,” Agacita said.

Meanwhile, the court also lifted the Precautionary Hold Departure Order against Ongpin that was issued on Oct. 8, 2021.

PRO 1 said their Regional Legal Service is closely coordinating with the Department of Justice for filing a motion for reconsideration (MR).

Reports said the Justice Department prosecution is also set to file an MR.

“We assure the family of Breena Jonson that we have investigated this case professionally and impartially with no attempt to cover up or favor anybody. The PRO 1 and the whole PNP organization will exhaust all available possible legal remedies to attain true justice,” PRO 1 said.

Ongpin is the son of business tycoon and former trade secretary Roberto Ongpin.