DOJ chief tells Julian Ongpin to cooperate in drug case


Julian Roberto Ongpin,  son of billionaire and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin, was officially charged before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in San Fernando, La Union for possession of illegal drugs (cocaine).

This developed as Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra urged Ongpin to cooperate in the court proceedings where he can present all his evidence to refute accusations being lodged against him.

Guevarra also said the issuance of an arrest warrant against Ongpin would depend on the trial court’s review of the case.

“The judge whom the case will be raffled will first determine the existence of probable cause based on the records submitted to the court by the DOJ [Department of Justice] panel of state prosecutors. If the judge finds probable cause, he/she will issue a warrant of arrest,” Guevarra said.

“It is best for the accused to submit himself to the jurisdiction of the court so that he will have all the time and opportunity to defend himself in a fair and impartial trial,” the DOJ chief added.

The justice department has yet to receive any information from the court as to whether the case has been raffled off already and to what branch of the court.

The DOJ also said there is no need for it to seek the court’s issuance of a hold-departure order (HDO) since the precautionary hold departure order (PHDO) is valid until lifted by the court.

The complaint against Ongpin was filed after a panel of prosecutors found probable cause to indict him for violation of Section 11 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2022 after two preliminary investigation hearings.

The DOJ stressed that the criminal offense is non-bailable.

The case stemmed from the recovery of 12.6 grams of cocaine in the room that Ongpin shared with his girlfriend 30-year-old Bree Jonson at Flotsam and Jetsam Resort in La Union.

The cocaine was discovered after authorities responded to a report of an attempted suicide at the resort and found Jonson unconscious in a room.

Jonson was  brought to the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Ongpin claimed that Jonson committed suicide as he  found her hanging inside the bathroom, prompting him to seek assistance in bringing the latter to the hospital.

Both Ongpin and Jonson reportedly tested positive for illegal drug use.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still conducting an investigation to determine Jonson’s cause of death and Ongpin’s possible liability over the incident.

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