DOJ to issue lookout bulletin order vs. Ongpin scion over artist’s death

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2021 04:15 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2021 05:46 PM

DOJ may also ask for precautionary hold departure order vs Ongpin

 Mugshot of Julian Ongpin. Courtesy of the PNP Police Regional Office 1
Mugshot of Julian Ongpin. Courtesy of the PNP Police Regional Office 1

MANILA — The Justice department is set to issue an immigration lookout bulletin order against the son of one of the country’s wealthiest tycoons over the death of an artist in La Union, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.

“I have just received the request from Mrs. Salome Jonson, mother of deceased Bree Jonson,” he said in a message in response to queries from reporters.

“Considering that charges for violation of the Dangerous Drugs law have been filed against Julian Ongpin, the DOJ will issue an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Mr. Ongpin,” he said.

Julian Ongpin, the son of Roberto Ongpin, currently Forbes’ 22nd wealthiest Filipino for 2021, is the deceased Jonson’s boyfriend, her mother said.

The two were staying at a hostel in La Union where witnesses supposedly heard a commotion before finding the lifeless body of Bree, who was declared dead upon arrival at a local hospital early Saturday morning.

Ongpin, meanwhile, was arrested for drug possession after authorities recovered cocaine from their room.

He was later released pending further probe. 

In an emotional appeal on Headstart Tuesday morning, Salome asked Guevarra to issue an immigration lookout bulletin and hold departure order against Ongpin for fears he might leave the 

Only courts can issue hold departure orders.

The DOJ can only issue an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO), which requires immigration officials to inform the justice secretary if the subject of an ILBO intends to leave the country through international airports and seaports.

However, Guevarra said “[t]he DOJ may further consider asking the court for the issuance of a precautionary hold-departure order depending on the progress of the preliminary investigation.”

“We have likewise directed the NBI to assist the PNP in conducting the investigation or to do a parallel probe, as may be needed,” he added.


DOJ spokesperson Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar explained why Ongpin was released from police custody.

“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 (cocaine) under Section 11, R.A. No. 9165, and to investigate further if there was “foul play” which resulted in the death of Bree Jonson," she said. 

"In the meantime, the inquest prosecutor ordered PNP San Juan, La Union, to release Mr. Ongpin pending the preliminary investigation of the case,” she said.

Inquest prosecutors either immediately file charges in court if there is probable cause, dismiss the complaint if without sufficient basis or set the complaint for preliminary investigation to gather more evidence. 


Guevarra and Aglipay-Villar, however, could not yet explain why there was talk about a transfer of jurisdiction.

It was Aglipay-Villar who said “[t]he transfer of the case to another jurisdiction is under consideration and will be discussed with the Regional Prosecutor and the Secretary of Justice.”

But asked for the basis for the transfer, she clarified “there is no formal request” citing the Prosecutor General, although she confirmed “there have been discussions between the PG, regional prosecutor and the NBI of the possibility to transfer the jurisdiction.”

Sought for comment, Guevarra said: 

“If at all, it’s not really a transfer of jurisdiction (because in criminal cases jurisdiction lies in the place where the offense was committed). It may only be a case of a prosecutor in another place being designated to conduct the preliminary investigation as acting prosecutor for the place where the offense was committed. We’ll advise you later if there is really a need to do this in the Ongpin case.”

Pressed further, Guevarra referred the query to Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento whom, he said, “is in a better position to answer that question.”


The death of Jonson, a Filipina painter, was a schock to the art community.

She was only 30 and had recently built a studio in La Union.

The Leon Gallery called her passing a “major loss to Philippine art.”

An autopsy on Jonson's body was done on Monday evening after several delays.

Jonson's father and aunt are currently in La Union to oversee preparations for the transfer of her body to Manila, where a 2-day wake will be held before she is brought to Davao.