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DOJ to issue immigration lookout order vs Ongpin scion in Bree Jonson case

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DOJ to issue immigration lookout order vs Ongpin scion in Bree Jonson case
File photo shows Julian Ongpin.
The STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday that the Department of Justice will issue an immigration lookout bulletin order against Julian Ongpin, who was the last companion of artist Bree Jonson before she was found unconscious in a hostel in San Juan, La Union and later declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Guevarra told reporters in a text message that his department will issue a lookout order against Ongpin as police have slapped drug charges against him.

The justice secretary added that the DOJ may seek a precautionary hold-departure order from a court, depending on the progress of the preliminary investigation.

An Immigration lookout bulletin cannot prevent people from leaving the country, unlike a court-issued hold-departure order. The lookout order only sets up a mechanism that requires alerting the justice secretary or the prosecutor general if the subject attempts to leave the country.

A hold departure order can only be issued when charges have reached the court. Prosecutors handling preliminary investigation into complaints filed may also seek the issuance of a precautionary hold-departure order from the court.

A precautionary hold-departure order can be issued in cases where the accused is facing a charge where the minimum penalty prescribed by the law is at least six years and one day.

Ongpin released

DOJ spokesperson Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said Tuesday that the inquest prosecutor of La Union ordered the release of Ongpin pending the preliminary investigation on the death of Jonson.

"The inquest prosecutor of La Union deemed it proper to conduct a regular preliminary investigation of the case to give the law enforcers the opportunity to submit additional evidence to further prove the case for possession of dangerous drugs ... and to investigate further if there was ‘foul play,’" Aglipay-Villar told reporters.

Salome Jonson, Bree's mother, told ABS-CBN News Channel that she fears that Ongpin, the son of former trade minister and property developer Alphaland chair Roberto Ongpin, might have already left the country after his release.

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

Details on the death of the 30-year-old Jonson are hazy, with police still waiting for the results of the autopsy on the artist’s remains.

What is known so far is that Jonson was last seen with her Ongpin, who Philippine National Police chief Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said tested positive for drugs. Eleazar added that 12.6 grams of cocaine was found in the room where Jonson’s body was found.

The top cop also said that Ongpin told local police that Jonson’s death was a case of suicide, an angle that is being questioned by the artist’s mother. — Xave Gregorio with reports from Kristine Joy Patag and Franco Luna

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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.

BREE JONSON DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
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