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'Unacceptable': Mother of late Bree Jonson calls for justice after drug charges vs Julian Ongpin dropped over technicality

By AYIE LICSI Published Nov 16, 2021 5:30 pm

The mother of the late artist Bree Jonson slammed the dismissal of an illegal drug charge by a La Union court against Julian Ongpin, son of tycoon Roberto Ongpin, due to an alleged mishandling by the police of case evidence.

Ongpin was with Jonson the day that the latter was found dead in a room that the two shared in a La Union hostel last September. Prosecutors later charged Ongpin for possession of illegal drugs after over 12 grams of cocaine were reportedly found in their room by the police. 

The late artist's mother, Sally Jonson, told PhilSTAR L!fe that the decision was "ridiculous, absurd, and unacceptable" and called for justice.

"The decision was ridiculous, absurd, and unacceptable lalo na Julian Ongpin violated Sec. 15 of RA 9165 since he tested positive for drugs (cocaine) and this was not included in PNPs charges, only Sec 11. again because of jurisprudence excuse," she said.

"But because of the incompetency of PNP in handling drug cases by not complying to Sec 21 of RA 9165 the case was dismissed," Jonson added.

Failure to comply with chain of custody

Sec. 21 of RA 9165 (the Dangerous Drugs Act) details the chain of custody for authorities to follow when seizing illegal drugs. Failure to comply with the chain of custody would render the evidence inadmissible and result in the dismissal of the case.

In the case against Ongpin, San Fernando Regional Trial Court Branch 27 Presiding Judge Romeo Agacita Jr. said that the police failed to immediately mark the sachets of cocaine seized from the room he shared with Jonson.

"It could not, therefore, be determined how the unmarked drugs were handled upon confiscation. Evidently, the alteration of the seized items was a possibility absent their immediate marking thereof," said the 12-page decision.

The precautionary hold departure order against Ongpin has also been lifted.

During the processing of evidence, the business tycoon's son was brought to the hospital for medical examination.

The police justified their non-compliance with Sec. 21 by arguing that the case involved the investigation of the death of Jonson. But the court said the discovery of drugs turned the situation into a "suspected illegal drugs case" where chain of custody rules should have been followed.

DOJ to file motion for reconsideration

Jonson said that she awaits the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution's next move as a motion for reconsideration has already been filed.

"PNP's legal excuse—'di pa kasi sila nakakakita ng cocaine, di daw nila alam na drugs yun. It is obvious that the court was so relaxed with Julian Ongpin's drug case. 'Pag mahirap pa 'yan, kulong na agad. Kelangan yata yakap-yakap ni Julian ang drugs para masabing possesion of illegal drugs. Julian and the people who defended his crimes will not escape the Divine Justice," she said.

In September, Ilocos Police Regional Office chief Brig. Fen. Emmanuel Peralta said the La Union prosecution office released Ongpin as his apprehension "doesn’t fall under any of the instances of where warrantless arrest is allowed."

The DOJ state prosecutors eventually charged Ongpin in October as possession of 12 grams of cocaine, which is a non-bailable offense under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.