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Enrile says judge was ‘fair’ on decision to junk Ongpin drug rap

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Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Thursday said the judge who tried and heard the drug case of Julian Roberto Ongpin, son of businessman-billionaire and former Trade Minister Roberto Ongpin, was “fair enough and was doing justice when it junked Ongpin’s case.”

Enrile, a founding partner of Ponce Enrile, Siguion Reyna, Montecillo, Belo, and Ongsiako Law

Offices, made the statement after President Judge Romeo Agacita Jr. of Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, San Fernando City, La Union, dismissed the criminal case against Ongpin, who was charged with violating Section 11 of Republic Act 9165 (RA) or the “Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.”

“I learned about the case of Julian Roberto S. Ongpin for alleged violation of Section 11 of  Republic Act No. 9165 – the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002,” Enrile said, in an emailed statement. “And  I also read thoroughly the decision ot.f [Agacita]…of the First

Judicial Region of San Fernando City, La Union. The decision is very lucid and well-written.” 

The former senator noted that Agacita meticulously “analyzed the case, step by step, according to existing and current precedents and jurisprudence, to arrive at his decision to dismiss the case against…Ongpin for lack of  probable cause to indict him for violation of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165.”

For Enrile, he considered Agacita’s ruling as a truly “meritorious act of justice.”

Agacita held that he was constrained to dismiss the complaint for lack of probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest against Ongpin, “in view of the utter non-compliance of the requirements of Section 21 of RA 9165.”

Court records showed that on Sep 18, 2021, at the Flotsam Jetsam Hostel in Barangay Urbiztondo in San Juan, La Union, Ongpin told security officer Joselito Niebres that his girlfriend, Breana Patricia Agunod or Bree Jonson, has committed suicide.

She was found unconscious and was later pronounced dead at a hospital where she was taken.

Ongpin was eventually indicted for alleged possession of 18 sachets of suspected cocaine.

But the court found that the sealed plastic sachets allegedly containing white power substance were not marked at the time the police conducted an inventory.

In his resolution, Agacita ruled said that the implementing rules and regulations on the chain of custody rule require that the apprehending officers “not simply mention a justifiable ground, but also clearly state his ground in their sworn affidavit, coupled with a statement on the steps they took to preserve the integrity of the seized item.”

The lower court judge also held that “there was even no earnest efforts on their part — not even attempts to call through phone —nearby barangay [village] officials, considering that the barangay hall of Barangay Urbiztondo… is just a few meters from the place of incident.”

The RTC also lifted the precautionary hold department order it issued against Ongpin.


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