June 11, 2023

Drug charges against Bren Esports CEO dropped, arrest warrant revoked

Drug charges against Bren Esports CEO dropped, arrest warrant revoked
Facebook/Bren Esports

Months after being tagged in a failed drug smuggling operation, the Court of Appeals has overturned the Manila City Regional Trial Court's decision against Bren Esports CEO Bernard "Bren" Lu Chong.

The Special 17th Division of the Court of Appeals issued a 27-page decision setting aside the previous decisions made by the Manila City RTC, which had identified Chong as one of the accused and co-conspirators who imported illegal drugs in violation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Chong filed a petition for certiorari before the CA on the first of July 2022, arguing that the Manila Court had incorrectly decided on the matter. Front and center in that petition is Manila RTC Branch 53 presiding Judge Reynaldo Alhambra for allegedly committing grave abuse of discretion.

According to Chong, Alhambra failed in his constitutional duty to protect him from the troubles, expenses, and stress of a public trial by wrongly accusing him of violating RA 9165, which is a non-bailable offense.

The appellate court found reason in the petition. 

“The petition is meritorious. In the Court’s power of judicial review, it is incumbent on the Court to ease the burden of the trial court in zeroing on the real culprits so that the latter may be brought to the face the dictates of criminal justice,” CA Associate Justice Bonifacio Pascua stated in the order.

The order dismisses the case against the Bren Esports executive and invalidates the arrest warrant issued against him regarding the mentioned case.

Chong provided a notarized certification, a General Information Sheet, and a Board Resolution in June and July 2018, indicating that he had already transferred his shares of stocks to Jaymark De Vicente, the president of Fortuneyield, the company reportedly involved in the alleged importation of illegal drugs.

This evidence demonstrates that Chong was no longer connected to Fortuneyield long before the alleged illegal drug importation took place.

Chong established Bren Esports in 2017, a Filipino esports team that made history three years ago by becoming the first Philippine squad to win the $300,000 Mobile Legends: Bang Bang M2 World Championship title.

Bren Esports also had competitive teams in various games such as CS:GO, PUBG, League of Legends, Overwatch, Valorant, Hearthstone, Clash Royale, Arena of Valor, Rules of Survival, and Tekken 7.

(GM)