CA clears Bren Esports owner of drug smuggling charges


Posted at May 08 2023 02:40 PM | Updated as of May 08 2023 02:41 PM

MANILA - The Court of Appeals has overturned a Manila court's decision to charge Bernard Chong, the owner of multi-title esports organization Bren Esports, on involvement in a botched drug smuggling operation. 

The Manila Regional Trial Court earlier tagged Chong as involved in a drug smuggling operation at the Manila International Container Port, and moved to charge him for importing drugs. 

In July 1, Chong filed a Petition for Certiorari, saying the Manila court exercised grave abuse of discretion or lacked jurisdiction when it refused to reverse the warrant and dismiss the criminal cases against the businessman. 

“The petition is meritorious. In the Court’s power of judicial review, it is incumbent on the Court to ease the burden of the trial court in zeroing on the real culprits so that the latter may be brought to the face the dictates of criminal justice,” Associate Justice Bonifacio Pascua said in the order. 

The arrest warrant for Chong was also revoked as a result. 

“Wherefore, premised considered, the instant petition is granted. Accordingly, judgement is hereby rendered annulling and setting aside the assailed orders dates September 13, 2021; October 25, 2021; and April 29, 2022 issued by the RCT-Manila, Branch 53 in Criminal Case No. R-MNL-20-0002-CR,” Pascua ordered.

Authorities previously launched a manhunt against Chong, according to reports, after being tagged as the owner of Fortuneyield Cargo Services Corporation. 

Chong later presented documents that he was no longer connected with the shipping company long before the drugs were caught. 

The documents -- a certification by the notary public as well as the General Information Sheet and Board Resolution in June and July 2018 -- showed that he has assigned his shares of stocks to Fortuneyield president Jaymark De Vicente.
Chong founded Bren Esports in 2017, which is the first Filipino organization to take home the world championship title in Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. 

The allegations against Chong surfaced ahead of MPL Philippines, the local league's 11th season, where Bren eventually emerged as a title contender, but ultimately succumbed in the playoffs after squandering a twice-to-beat advantage. 

Bren's core athletes will participate in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games' Mobile Legends: Bang Bang tournament, representing Sibol as the Philippines guns for three straight gold medals in the biennial tilt.