Police conduct probe into death of painter Bree Jonson, slaps illegal drug complaint vs Ongpin scion

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — The Philippine National Police said Tuesday it is conducting in-depth investigation into the death of young painter Bree Jonson, including the possible involvement of her boyfriend, Julian Roberto Ongpin — who has been released from detention.

The 30-year-old artist was found dead in a hostel in San Juan, La Union on September 18. The Ilocos Regional Police said it was able to retrieve 12.6 grams of cocaine in the room she shared with Ongpin, the son of former Trade Secretary and prominent businessman Roberto Ongpin.

In a statement, regional police chief PBGen. Emmanuel Peralta said Ongpin yielded positive for cocaine use, so they filed a complaint for possession and use of illegal drugs.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured a rigorous investigation to give justice to Jonson. He added the Office of the Prosecutor General will issue a statement regarding the incident, including Ongpin's release.

"I just want to assure everyone that this matter will be investigated thoroughly to find out the truth and to ensure that justice will be done," he said.

The police said it was initially reported as a suicide, but they are now conducting a more thorough probe.

"Investigation is ongoing to determine the real cause of death of the victim and to be able to gather pieces of evidence for possible filing of other charges if evidence warrants," Peralta said.

PNP Chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said they are waiting for autopsy results to see if additional cases can be filed against Jonson's boyfriend.

He said the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office decided to release Ongpin while the investigation is ongoing.

Jonson's mother Sally said in a television interview on Tuesday that she has sent an email to the Department of Justice to appeal for an immigration lookout bulletin and hold departure order to be issued against Ongpin. She fears he might have left the country despite ongoing investigation.

“Siya ang last person na kasama ng anak ko sa resort na iyon... I would like to reemphasize this urgency kasi baka si Julian ay nakalabas na ng bansa [because he might be out of the country already],” she told ANC Headstart.

She denied Bree was using illegal drugs, saying a photo of her body showed marks on her neck.

"Maiiisip mo na something happened there. Ang pinapalabas nila, nagci-circulate sa social media is that nag-OD (overdose) o suicide ang anak ko. Hindi eh," she said.

[Translation: You will think that something happened there. It's circulating on social media that she overdosed or she died by suicide. It's not true.]

CNN Philippines is trying to get comment from Ongpin.