Ongpin asks La Union court to suspend case proceedings


JULIAN Roberto S. Ongpin, the son of billionaire-businessman Roberto V. Ongpin, has asked the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, La Union, to suspend proceedings, including the possible issuance of an arrest warrant, in connection with the drug charges filed against him by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a 16-page motion filed last October 21, Ongpin through his lawyer, Dennis P. Manalo, told the court that he was not given the opportunity to file a motion for reconsideration of the DOJ’s resolution indicting him for illegal possession of cocaine, a non-bailable offense.

Ongpin said that under the DOJ rules for preliminary investigation, an accused has 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration of the resolution issued by the justice department or to file a petition for review with the office of the justice secretary.

“Accused, therefore, implores the Honorable Court to afford him of a chance to avail all remedies in the preliminary investigation of this case and respectfully moves to defer the issuance of a warrant of arrest during the period within which he may still file a motion for reconsideration or a petition for review from his receipt of the DOJ’s resolution,” Ongpin appealed.

He noted that while the DOJ has immediately released to the media its resolution recommending his indictment, it has yet to furnish him a copy of the said resolution.

“To deny petitioner’s claim for a preliminary investigation would be to deprive him of the full measure of his right to due process. Hence, if there is a pending motion for reconsideration or motion for reinvestigation of the resolution of the public prosecutor, the court may suspend the proceedings upon motion by the parties,” Ongpin stressed.

As an alternative, Ongpin’s camp is seeking the outright dismissal of the complaint for lack of probable cause or to order the DOJ to present additional evidence within five days from notice to establish probable cause against him.

The accused claimed that the evidence relied by the DOJ in indicting him for possession of illegal drugs were not sufficient to establish probable cause that he was in possession of the subject drugs.

“Second, while the DOJ conceded that the subject drugs were not in the ‘actual possession’ of the accused, it jumped to the conclusion that the subject drugs where in the ‘constructive possession’ of the accused. This leap in logic and evidence is judicially unacceptable there being a demonstrable absence of any proof of the subject drugs were in his possession, dominion or control,” Ongpin’s motion read.

“Indeed, the DOJ was unable to present any evidence that the accused is the owner, custodian, or possessor, of the black pouch, brown pouch or white pouch or bag, where the subject drugs were supposedly recovered,” he added.

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 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2022) after two preliminary investigation hearings.

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 the Flotsam and Jetsam Resort in La Union last September 18.

The cocaine were discovered after authorities responded to a report of 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 on 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.

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