State asks court to reconsider dismissal of drug charges vs Ongpin

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 26 2021 12:56 PM

Mugshot of Julian Ongpin after being arrested for drug possession in La Union on September 18, 2021 after the body of artist Bree Jonson was found in the room they were staying in. Ongpin was later released as authorities investigated the incident. PNP Police Regional Office 1 Handout Photo/File
Mugshot of Julian Ongpin after being arrested for drug possession in La Union on September 18, 2021 after the body of artist Bree Jonson was found in the room they were staying in. Ongpin was later released as authorities investigated the incident. PNP Police Regional Office 1 Handout Photo/File

MANILA— Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said Friday the prosecution has asked a La Union court to reconsider its ruling junking the drug case against Julian Ongpin, son of one of the Philippines' prominent tycoons.

The motion for reconsideration is set to be heard on December 3, where the prosecution could present evidence if they are so allowed.

The La Union court last week junked the illegal possession of drugs charge against Ongpin, citing the police’s failure to comply with the chain of custody requirements under section 21 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (RA 9165). 

It said the alleged drugs were not immediately marked when they were seized, which created doubt as to the evidentiary value and integrity of the seized items. 

The court also said there were no witnesses from the media, DOJ or an elected public official when the marking and inventory were done.

Police had sought to justify the absence of witnesses by arguing that the case initially involved an investigation on the death of artist Bree Jonson, Ongpin’s girlfriend and companion in the hostel room, therefore, strict compliance with section 21 was not required.

But the court said that the discovery of the drugs converted the “dead body found” situation into a “suspected illegal drugs” case where the chain of custody requirement applies.

The court noted the lone civilian witness did not sign the inventory of evidence collected.

There were also no earnest efforts shown to comply with the requirements, the court said, because the police did not offer any justifiable ground why mandatory witnesses were not present. 

And because proper procedure was not followed, the court said the presumption of regularity in police’s actions does not apply. 

The Department of Justice last October filed a non-bailable criminal case of possession of dangerous drugs against Ongpin for reported violation of section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Authorities said 12 grams of cocaine were recovered from a La Union hostel room he was staying in last September.

Ongpin denied either owning or possessing the pouch where cocaine was recovered. 

Ongpin is also being investigated over the death of his girlfriend, artist Bree Jonson, as he was the last person seen with her before her body was found on Sept. 18 at the same hostel.

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