The Department of Justice will take over the preliminary investigation of the illegal drugs case filed against Julian Roberto Ongpin, son of billionaire businessman Roberto Ongpin, who is also considered as a person of interest in the Sept. 18 death of artist Breana “Bree” Jonson in La Union.
The transfer of the preliminary investigation from the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor (OPP) of La Union to the OSJPS (Office of the Secretary of the Justice Prosecution Staff) was contained in Department Order No. 229 that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra issued yesterday.
Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay Villar said the 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 in a text message.
Preliminary investigation conducted by the police showed that 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.
“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,” Guevarra said.
The Ilocos Regional Police Office (PRO-1) admitted yesterday they were now clueless as to the whereabouts of Ongpin, who was last seen by the police on September 21.
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar assured the public 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.
“We have yet to issue a conclusion and we do not rule out the possibility of foul play. Rest assured that we will be transparent in this case,” Eleazar said.