Amid claims of suicide attempt, PNP waits for autopsy in Bree Jonson case

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Amid claims of suicide attempt, PNP waits for autopsy in Bree Jonson case
Artist Bree Jonson
Artinformal video via YouTube / Screencap by Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Police are looking into reports of attempted suicide as the investigation into the death of 30-year-old painter Bree Jonson in San Juan, La Union over the weekend continues.

Police said they are waiting for the results of an autopsy on Jonson's remains.

Jonson, 30, was found unconscious in a room in San Juan, La Union early last Saturday morning and later declared dead on arrival at the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center.

The Philippine National Police said local cops were responding to reports of attempted suicide.

In a statement sent to media late Monday night, Police Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta, director of Police Regional Office 1, said "operatives from San Juan Municipal Police Station immediately responded to check on the veracity of the reported incident."

He said police found "the lifeless body of Breana Patricia Jonson Agunod" and said "she was with her boyfriend, Julian Roberto Ongpin."

Ongpin is the son of former trade minister Roberto Ongpin, who is chair of property developer Alphaland. He was arrested after cocaine was found in the room but later released. 

Jonson's family earlier said they did not know the two were involved. 

Ongpin released pending investigation

In a separate statement on Tuesday morning, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief, said it was Ongpin who told local police that it was a case of suicide.

Eleazar confirmed that 12.6 grams of cocaine found at the scene and a positive drug test served as the basis for the filing of charges against Ongpin.

He also said the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office ordered Ongpin's release while the investigation is being conducted. 

"[We are] just waiting for the conduct and the result of the autopsy on Miss Jonson's remains to find out if there is a further case to be filed against her boyfriend," he said in Filipino. 

The PNP chief said he had already tasked police to coordinate and to make sure that Ongpin will be available while the investigation into Jonson's death is ongoing.

Sought for comment, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters: "I just want to assure everyone that this matter will be investigated thoroughly to find out the truth and to ensure that justice will be done."

"Investigation is ongoing to determine the real cause of death of the victim and to be able to gather pieces of evidence for possible filing of other charges if evidence warrants," Peralta also said for his part. 

Philstar.com reached out to Police Lt. Col. Abubakar Mangelen, information officer of Police Regional Office 1, for an update on the autopsy results. This story will be updated with his response. 

Family raises doubt

It is unclear where the claim that the victim attempted suicide came from. 

The management of the hostel that called local police to report the incident refused to comment when sought for comment by Philstar.com. It said it already submitted an affidavit to the San Juan town police. 

Asked if it indeed reported the incident as an alleged suicide, the management said it "didn't know anything about that" but distanced the establishment from the situation.

Philstar.com sought comment from Jonson's family but they have not responded as of this post. 

Salome Jonson, Bree's mother, said in an interview aired over ANC that she fears the tycoon's son might have already left the country after his release.

Addressing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, she said she sent an email to DOJ Frontline asking for an immigration lookout bulletin order and a hold departure order on Ongpin. 

"He was the last person seen with my daughter in that resort and there are employees who are witnesses...I would really like to emphasize the urgency," she said. 

Jonson also questioned the "suicide" narrative being spread across social media, pointing to the visible scratches on Ongpin in his mugshot. 

"You would really think that something happened in there. Because what's being circulated on media, on social media is that my daughter overdosed or she committed suicide. That's not it," she said. 

"It was really scary, hair-raising...What does that mean, did my daughter put up a fight? Who else would do that to him? Those were fresh deep scratches on his arm."

She also pointed out that the hostel staff testified that they heard a commotion in the early morning hours that sounded like the two were fighting. 

"They heard a loud noise, and then that was it. They knocked and asked what that was. But that's it...my daughter was already lifeless. Because when they arrived at the hospital, she was gone. She did not reach the hospital." 

with a report from Kristine Joy Patag 


The Department of Health urges people seeking professional support to get in touch with the National Center for Mental Health hotlines at 0917-899-USAP (8727) or 899-USAP (8727); or its Mind Matters hotline at 09189424864.

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