Delayed autopsy and drug charges? Questions hounding artist Bree Jonson’s death

September 21, 2021 - 6:30 PM
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This Feb. 22, 2020 photo shows late artist Bree Jonson. (Bree Jonson/Instagarm)

Questions on the sudden death of artist Breana Patricia Jonson Agunod or Bree Jonson were raised online following released police reports.

Media outlets reported that the unconscious body of the 30-year-old painter was found at a hostel in La Union in the morning of September 18.

She was declared dead on arrival after she was rushed to a nearby hospital.

More questions about Jonson’s demise were raised after the public learned of her last known companion in the hostel, art patron and angel investor Julian Ongpin.

He is the son of former trade minister Roberto Ongpin, chair of property developer Alphaland.

Julian was arrested for possession of drugs after the police discovered 12.6 grams of cocaine in the hostel room.

As of Monday afternoon, it was reported that he has already been released.

Lieutenant Colonel Abubakar Mangelen, the public information chief of the Ilocos Regional Police, confirmed to The Philippine STAR on the same day that the younger Ongpin underwent a drug test and had tested positive.

Police Major Gerardo Macaraeg, chief of San Juan police in La Union, said that the Ilocos Regional Police, including the legal service, have already filed drug charges against the art patron before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of San Fernando.

Meanwhile, Jonson’s cadaver was autopsied on Monday evening after several delays, according to her mother Sally Jonson in an interview.

On Tuesday, Philippine National Police chief General Guillermo Eleazar said that they are still waiting for the autopsy results.

RELATED: Jonson kin lament delayed autopsy on Bree, reported release of Julian Ongpin

In a television interview, Sally raised suspicion on her daughter’s death, saying that she saw a photo that showed long marks on the sides of Bree’s neck.

“Maiisip mo na something happened there. Kasi ang pinapalabas nila, nagsi-circulate sa media, sa social media, is that nag-OD (overdose) ang anak ko or nag-suicide ang anak ko. Hindi eh,” she said to ANC’s Headstart on Tuesday.

She also claimed that Julian’s mugshot was sent to their camp.

“‘Yung arm ni Julian, may mga deep scratches. So ano ‘yun, talagang nanlaban ‘yung anak ko? Sinong gagawa nun sa kanya? It’s fresh deep scratches sa arm niya,”  Sally claimed.

The matriarch appealed for the Department of Justice to put out an immigration lookout and hold departure order against Julian because of his “possible involvement” in Bree’s death and for possession of illegal drugs.

“I’m reaching out to you, Sir, that I sent an email to DOJ Frontline asking for an immigration lookout bulletin order because of Julian Ongpin’s possible involvement in the death of my daughter, Bree Jonson, because siya ang last person na kasama ng anak ko sa resort na ‘yun and may mga witnesses na employees,” Sally said, referring to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

“I also requested the DOJ Frontline for a hold departure request for Julian for possession of illegal drugs. And I would like to really emphasize this urgency kasi baka si Julian ay nakalabas na ng bansa,” she added.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Guevarra said that the DOJ will issue an immigration lookout order against Julian. He added that he has “directed the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to assist the PNP in conducting the investigation or to do a parallel probe, as may be needed” on Bree’s death.

The developing case on Bree’s death was placed under public security where social media users raised questions on Julian’s release and the alleged delayed autopsy.

“Nonbailable ang possession of drugs pero si Julian Ongpin nakalabas agad,” a Twitter user responding to the reported drug charges.

“I wonder if they’d also release someone caught in possession if he didn’t come from a prominent clan,” another online user wrote.

“The possession of drugs is (already) enough reason here for someone to be detained without bail (especially) since it’s cocaine but what saddens me is how the guy was (already) released just because he’s the son of a billionaire,” a different Filipino tweeted.

Under the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, the penalty for possessing 10 grams or more of cocaine is life imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 to P10,000,000.

Meanwhile, forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun noticed how there was a delay in the autopsy which is crucial in investigating the cause and manner of death.

“No autopsy 2 days after? Surely the body is already embalmed unless they have refrigeration there. Any chance someone got pre-embalming tox (toxicology) samples? Any death scene investigation?” she tweeted in response to the reports.

Eleazar confirmed that the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office has decided to release Ongpin while the case is being investigated.

“Nasampahan na ng kaukulang kasong may kinalaman sa iligal na droga ang kasintahan ni Bree Jonson na si Julian Ongpin matapos itong mag-positibo sa drug test at makuhanan ng cocaine sa kanilang inuupahang kuwarto sa isang resort sa La Union,” he said.

“Sa aking huling pakikipag-usap sa RD, PRO1 PBGEN Emmanuel Peralta, nagdesisyon ang Provincial Prosecutor’s Office na palayain si Ginoong Ongpin habang ini-imbestigahan ang kaso,” Eleazar added.

“Hinihintay lamang ng inyong PNP ang pagsasagawa at ang resulta ng autopsy sa mga labi ni Binibining Jonson upang malaman kung may karagdagang kaso na isasampa laban sa kanyang kasintahan,” he further said.