Julian Ongpin asks court to dismiss drug case

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The son of billionaire and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin has asked the La Union Regional Trial Court (RTC) to dismiss the complaint for illegal possession of drugs filed against him by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with the death of visual artist Bree Jonson last month.

In a 16-page motion dated Oct. 21, Julian Ongpin, 29, through his legal counsel, asked Executive Judge Romeo Agacita of the La Union RTC Branch 27 to dismiss the drug case for lack of evidence.

Ongpin’s camp also urged the court to defer the issuance of a warrant for his arrest to give him an opportunity to avail himself of other legal remedies.

His lawyers opposed the DOJ resolution, which recommended the filing of drug charges against Ongpin.

Ongpin was linked to the death of Jonson after police reportedly recovered more than 12 grams of cocaine in the resort room where she was found unconscious on Sept. 18.

Authorities said both Ongpin and Jonson tested positive for cocaine use.

“The DOJ failed to establish probable cause that Ongpin was in possession of the subject drugs. First, the drugs were not found in his possession. The DOJ resolution only proved that the pouch where the cocaine was recovered was placed in the bed,” Ongpin’s lawyers said.

“The DOJ jumped to the conclusion that he owned the drugs. The DOJ was unable to present evidence that he was the owner, custodian or possessor of the cocaine,” they added.

In his counter-affidavit, Ongpin denied that he owned the drugs.

Ongpin was reportedly not inside the room when the police found the drugs as he was taken to the hospital for a medical checkup.

Based on an autopsy conducted on Jonson by the La Union police, she died of asphyxia or loss of oxygen. She bore ligature marks on her neck.

Jonson’s relatives believe that the cause of her death was not drug overdose.

The National Bureau of Investigation is conducting a separate probe to determine the cause of Jonson’s death.

A hold departure order has been issued against Ongpin to prevent him from leaving the country.

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