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The case of Julian Ongpin

November 22, 2021 Paul M. Gutierrez 480 views

PaulLAST November 15, 2021, the Regional Trial Court of La Union, dismissed the illegal drug possession case against Julian Ongpin, the “Rich Boy” and son of one of former trade minister, Roberto Ongpin.

The whole proceeding was quite fast, less than three months since Ongpin was arrested, nay, merely “invited for questioning” by the La Union police last September 18, 2021— allegedly “high” on illegal drugs (cocaine) and with his girlfriend, Bree Johnson, dead “thru asphyxiation,” the police said and with Ongpin the most likely suspect, her family averred, should it be proven that she was killed.

We say the whole proceeding that led to Ongpin being found “innocent” by the court, despite also being found in possession of over 12 grams of cocaine—already a non-bailable offense under our drug law– is quite fast considering that other drug suspects have been languishing for as long as over a year until now but are yet to be presented before a prosecutor.

The big difference, of course, is that Ongpin came from that elite circle of families that we call the “oligarchs” who are the actual power-holders in our country; most of those arrested for illegal drugs are just like you and me—ordinary and struggling Filipinos who have no political connections and economic clout sufficient to mock the rule of law and be in the good graces of Lady Justice.

We say also that Ongpin was merely invited for questioning by the police because, as media reports would have it, he hardly spent a night in jail because he was ordered release by the prosecutor and the police suddenly let him go despite claiming they found enough grams of cocaine with him that is sufficient evidence to lock him away—for life.

And yes, this is aside from the fact that his girlfriend was found dead thru asphyxiation (lack of oxygen) as the police affirmed that should have given them further excuse to detain him further over the issue of either a case for homicide or murder being slapped against Ongpin.

In other words, the police and the prosecution, two vital pillars of our criminal justice system, made everything easy for Ongpin.

Too, we cannot turn our angst against the court, under Judge Romeo Agacita, for acquitting Ongpin because the police, under PRO1 director, P/BGen. Emmanuel Peralta, ‘violated’ every protocol there is in the law (RA 9165) involving the inventory and custody seized illegal drugs.

In other words, what the police and the prosecution did has left the court with no other course but to acquit Ongpin.

After the acquittal, both the DOJ and the PNP claimed they would “appeal” the court’s decision.

Overall, this case is another clear demonstration that it is very different when you are rich.