The legal team of the family of 30-year-old visual artist Breanna Jonson, found dead last Saturday in a hotel room in San Juan, La Union, questioned the order of the provincial prosecutor’s office in Agoo on Thursday, La Union to free her boyfriend Julian Ongpin, son of billionaire Roberto Ongpin, from custody, although he is considered a possible suspect in his death.
In its official statement posted to its Facebook account, the law firm Sunga Salandanan and Ampuan also refuted early reports published in various news reports and on social media alleging that Jonson committed suicide.
The police sergeant. General Emmanuel Peralta, director of Regional Police Bureau 1, said based on the initial investigation there was no sign or mark on Jonson’s body that would indicate a physical confrontation with her boyfriend Julian Ongpin .
“Contrary to previous statements circulating on social media, the initial forensic report from Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center showed signs of a struggle. There were bruises in other parts of Breanna’s body other than her neck, ”the law firm said.
It may be recalled that the Department of Justice (DOJ) told reporters that the La Union Provincial Prosecutor’s Office released its investigative resolution last Monday into the drug complaint filed by the Philippine National Police in San Juan, La Union and deemed it appropriate to conduct a regular preliminary investigation into the case to give law enforcement the opportunity to submit additional evidence in relation to the possession of dangerous drugs under Article 11, Republic Act 9165 or the 2002 Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, filed against Ongpin.
Ongpin was charged with possession of 12.6 grams of cocaine, a banned drug, allegedly recovered from Ongpin and Jonson’s hotel room at the Flotsam & Jetsam Resort in La Union where the latter was found unconscious and was then was pronounced dead in a hospital.
Likewise, the Justice Department said, the provincial prosecutor found it necessary to investigate further whether there had been a “foul play” that could have resulted in Jonson’s death.
Pending the preliminary investigation process and further investigation into Jonson’s death, the DOJ said the provincial prosecutor deemed it appropriate to order Ongpin’s release from custody.
Reacting to Ongpin’s immediate release from custody, Jonson’s legal team said: on the grounds that his arrest would not fall under any of the cases where warrantless arrest is permitted.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, declined to comment on Jonson’s camp statement “to avoid prejudging the case”.
Guevarra, however, revealed that the possibility of transferring the conduct of the preliminary investigation of the case to the DOJ headquarters in Manila is currently under consideration and could lead to a decision on Thursday.
Earlier, Guevarra said the Justice Department was simply discussing the possibility of appointing an acting prosecutor from another location to conduct the preliminary investigation where the offense was committed.
The secretary of the Ministry of Justice stressed that “the jurisdiction is at the place where the offense was committed”.
Guevarra also confirmed that a team of forensic experts from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) performed a second autopsy of Jonson’s body at the request of his family.
The NBI team also visited the hotel where Jonson’s body was found to conduct further investigation and gather evidence.
He said the specimen taken from Jonson’s body would be subjected to lab tests.
Jonson’s lawyers have assured that they will exhaust all legal means to determine the truth behind the artist’s death.
“The family and the legal team will diligently engage in uncovering the truth, exhausting all avenues for justice for Breanna’s untimely death, and finding a solution for Breanna’s family, friends and loved ones,” the law firm said.