By Sydney Antoinette Alipao

PHOTO: Bree Jonson IG

Visual artist Breana "Bree" Jonson's death shocked the entire art community.

The 30-year-old artist was found lifeless inside a hotel room of a beach resort in La Union, where she was last seen alive with her boyfriend, business tycoon Roberto Ongpin's son, Julian Ongpin, who claimed that the death was due to suicide.

Investigations and inspections have been conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding the case in order to identify if a foul play occurred .

On the other hand, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the authorities to provide the family of the late Jonson justice.

ExplainED PH gathered information and updates regarding the timeline of Jonson’s case. It transpired as follows:

September 18

Bree's body was found "motionless" by Ongpin in their room at Flotsam and Jetsam beach resort located in San Juan City, La Union.

Ongpin then reported to the resort's safety office and the police for the alleged suicide of the visual artist. 

Jonson's body was found lying on the bed as hotel safety control officer Joselito Niebres arrived and checked the body; no pulse was felt from her.

Another pulse inspection was done by the police who arrived at around five to ten minutes after Bree's pulse was first checked by Niebres. However, upon checking, she again had no pulse.

For the third time, Jonson's pulse was checked by the San Juan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO). But still, no pulse was detected from the body.

Jonson was brought to at least two hospitals described as a "small hospital or clinic" for checking but they were eventually advised to bring her to the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC), where she was declared dead on arrival.

As she was being transported to the hospital, the police stayed in their hotel room for further processing and investigation.

About two hours after Bree's body was brought to the hospital, the Scene of Crime Operations (SOCO) arrived at the hotel room wherein they recovered 12.6 grams of cocaine.

Hours later, it was verified that the recovered drug was cocaine. Ongpin was immediately subjected to a drug test in which he tested positive.

Ongpin was then arrested due to violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

September 21

PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar confirmed that Julian has been released by the provincial prosecutor's office after being detained for illegal possession of drugs and pending the results of the investigation regarding Jonson's death.

On the other hand, Sally Jonson, Bree's mother, questioned the release of Ongpin citing that the drug case he faced was non-bailable.

Attorney Ma. Moreni Salandanan, lawyer of the Jonsons, in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo also doubted Ongpin's release saying that no other person was released for further investigation with the same amount of drugs that was seized from him.

Jonson’s mother stood firm to her belief that her daughter did not commit suicide and that Bree fought for her life due to the "wounds" found on Ongpin's arms, which the latter denied.

According to Ongpin, he got the wounds as he attempted to break the window into the bathroom where he saw the unconscious Bree.

He said that the wounds on his arms and back were caused by the nails on the broken door.

The authorities also inspected the window and said that it matched Ongpin's testimonies.

Police Regional Office 1 Director Police Brigadier General (PBGen) Emmanuel Peralta said that Jonson's body only has upward markings on the neck and that the cat chain seen inside their room is believed to be the tool she used to end her life.

However, the PNP said that a foul play is not discounted for the case.

Moreover, Sally appealed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue a Hold Departure Order (HDO) against Ongpin for the possibility that he may fly out of the country.

September 22

As the probe is still in process, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) issued a lookout order against Ongpin.

According to Immigration officer Jaime Morente, their office received an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order (ILBO) from the DOJ.

September 23

Bree's initial autopsy report was released stating that she died of asphyxia, the deprivation of oxygen in the body. She also tested positive for cocaine.

Furthermore, CCTV footage was also released by the Police Regional Office 1, showing Bree and Julian hours before the former was found dead.

In the video, the two were found sitting on the stairs while drinking red wine outside their hotel room and went back again as they were seen to be having an "altercation" according to Eleazar.

The PNP chief also said that the footage presented no sign of struggle, which matched the statement of a resort personnel.

September 25

On September 25, an NBI forensic team led by NBI director Eric Distor conducted an inspection on the places where Jonson and Ongpin went, including their hotel room and the bathroom where Bree's body was allegedly found by Ongpin.

The team also inspected the window in which Ongpin was saying that he broke in an attempt to get to the unconscious Bree.

Meanwhile, NBI's Death and Investigation Division held the reenactment after the inspection.

After the collection of all pieces of evidence and the second autopsy of Bree's body, all data will be brought to the NBI laboratory in Quezon City for further analysis.

Furthermore, the Bureau will also conduct a psychological autopsy on Bree by doing interviews with her family, relatives, and friends to look into how the artist really is as a person.

The PNP also welcomed the DOJ's decision to take over the preliminary investigation into the drug case of Ongpin.

September 27

Jonson's mother confirmed that a wake and interment for Bree will be held in Davao City, with the latter to be held on September 29.

September 28

Sally said that she has told the Ongpin family, including Julian, to come and visit her daughter's wake, but no one responded.

“I have actually asked Julian to come to Bree’s wake in Manila and even here in Davao. But they have not responded,” Sally said.

She also expressed her frustration about how the police are handling the case.

“They keep on frustrating us. So we’ve entrusted everything to the NBI. And I also asked for protection from [the] government because eventually we will be presenting witnesses. I cannot disclose further details because there’s an ongoing investigation,” she added.

September 29

Jonson's body is interred at Davao Memorial Park.

Sally called out the PNP in a two-minute video posted in a Facebook page handled by the Jonsons for their passivity on their filing for a motion of reconsideration for Ongpin's release.

After the interment, Sally stated that their family drafted the document at the NBI offices on September 24 to get it directed but she said "the PNP is delaying it."

October 1

Ongpin appeared at the DOJ for the preliminary probe of the drug charges filed against him.

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento confirmed that the DOJ National Prosecution Office is handling the preliminary investigation addressing the aforementioned request to transfer.

The next proceeding will be held on October 9.

Report sources:

[1] News, G. M. A. n.d. “Roque: Duterte Vowed Justice for Death of Bree Jonson.” GMA News Online. Accessed October 2, 2021. 

[2] News, G. M. A. n.d. “Wake for Artist Bree Jonson Ongoing in Davao, Interment Scheduled Sept. 29.” GMA News Online. Accessed October 2, 2021.

[3] “Police Clueless Where Julian Ongpin Is.” n.d. Manila Bulletin. Accessed October 2, 2021.

[4] News, G. M. A. n.d. “NBI Reenacts Scenes at Hotel Where Bree Jonson Was Found Dead.” GMA News Online. Accessed October 2, 2021.

[5] Bree’s mom to Julian – “Come visit my daughter’s wake.” (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2021, from Manila Bulletin website:

[6] News, CONSUELO MARQUEZ, GMA. n.d. “Artist Bree Jonson’s Body Found in La Union Resort; Companion Faces Drug Charges.” GMA News Online. Accessed October 2, 2021.

[7] Mendoza, John Eric. 2021. “BI Issues Lookout Order against Julian Ongpin in Bree Jonson Case.” September 22, 2021.