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CA clears Bren Sports owner of drug charges

THE COURT OF APPEALS dismisses the case against businessman and Esports Founder Bernard Lu Chong and recalls the warrant of arrest in a 27-page decision last April 13, 2023, CA-GR SP No. 174135 from the Special Seventh Division.

The decision granted the petitioner Bernard Lu Chong, the annulment of the said charges against him of alleged illegal shipment originating from Vietnam which had undeclared goods and dangerous drugs through the company Fortuneyield.

Here are some excerpts from the decision:

Records show that the filing of the said Information emanated from the seizure of 276, 344. 82 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu concealed in sacks of the plastic resin in a forty-foot container with container no. SITU 9031817 by the joint operatives of the government, under the direct supervision of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), at the Manila International Container Port – Container Freight Station 3 on 22 March 2019.

The alleged charges were brought about the illegal importation of prohibited drugs which was filed against him by the joint operatives of the government under the direct supervision of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Based on the affidavits filed before the PDEA RO-NCR, the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that there was an alleged OJ) found that there was an alleged attempt to confuse the authorities because the documents filed with the SITC Container Lines Phils., Inc. (SITC) shows that Fortuneyield, the company where herein petitioner served as a former President, was the consignee of the subject illegal shipment originating from Vietnam. However, the subsequent documents filed showed that Wealth Lotus was the consignee of the subject shipment originating from China.

Here, the petitioner asserts that there was no probable cause to indict him as one of the accused in the present case. Petitioner insists that he was no longer connected with Fortuneyield long before the commission of the alleged importation of illegal drugs on 22 March 2019. In support thereto, the petitioner reiterated on the preferred General Information Sheet (GIS) of Fortuneyield, which was submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on 10 July 2018, and the Board Resolution dated 01 June 2018 issued by the corporate secretary, evidencing his replacement as President of Fortuneyield following his resignation due to medical reasons.

Pertinently, it is well to emphasize that the court’s dismissal of a case for lack of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest must be done when the evidence on record fails to establish probable cause; that is when the records readily show uncontroverted and, thus, facts that unmistakably negate the existence of the elements of the crime charged.

In this case, the crux of the controversy rests on whether the petitioner’s claim that he was no longer connected with Fortuneyield on or about March 22, 2019, the time of the alleged commission of the crime, because of his resignation, assignment of shares, and replacement as President of the said company long before the said commission of the crime, has been sufficiently established.

WHEREFORE premised considered, the instant Petition is GRANTED. Accordingly, judgment is hereby rendered

ANNULLING and SETTING ASIDE the assailed Orders dated 13 September 2021, 25 October 2021, and 29 April 2022 issued by the RTC-Manila, Branch 53 in Criminal Case No. R-MNL-20-0002-CR. Judgment is likewise rendered ORDERING the dismissal of the case insofar as herein petitioner Lu Chong is concerned and QUASHING the issued warrant of arrest against petitioner in connection with the afore-indicated case.

So ordered, Associate Justice Bonifacios Pascua concurred with Associate Justice Louis P. Acosta and Associate Justice Jennifer Joyce C. Ong.

Certified by Associate Justice Louis P. Acosta, Chairperson Special Seventeenth Division, Court of Appeals.

Who is Bernard Lu Chong?

Bernard Lu Chong is an ambitious business professional with an Electronics Communications Engineering degree. He is a natural entrepreneur, armed with an immense passion for intellectual growth, and is a savvy investor whose portfolio ranges from traditional brick-and-mortar businesses to angel investments in tech startups.

As early as grade school, he was already selling products from their family shoe business. While at University, he ventured into several businesses, most notably in the recycling industry. After finishing his studies, he took over the family business and transformed it into one of the most popular local footwear in the Philippines, World Balance. During this time, he diversified his portfolio by going into several other investments. He has stakes in animation – ASI Studios; communications – Energy FM; F&B – Tim Hortons/Kko Kko; entertainment – RKB Productions; IT – Thirty-One Digital/Beepbeep.ph; and his newest ventures, BrenPro Inc. and Mineski Events Team.

He is the President and CEO of Esports Arena(MeSA), Bren Esports, BrenProTV, and Next Talents, BrenPro, Inc. aims to be the leading eSports ecosystem in the Philippines with the principles of transparency and collaboration with partners who share the same vision to nurture the growth of esports locally and internationally. Currently, Bren Esports is part of the first franchise league in the country, “The Nationals” which features a traditional league format where franchise teams compete in four game titles that cater to different gaming communities (PC gaming, mobile gaming, console gaming, and a wildcard game). This league also aims to be the main pool for national esports athletes who will compete in tournaments sanctioned by the SEA Games, Asian Games, and the Olympics. The league is broadcast live on ESPN5.

BREN Esports was the Mobile Legends world champion in 2021 — the icing to its many other titles since it started competing in 2017. Mobile Legends is the most famous and most downloaded mobile game having millions — and still growing — esports players and enthusiasts. following their favorite esports groups. BREN Esports has installed discipline to all its players giving the team a formidable and super competitive image in the tough esports field.

BREN ESports is the biggest and most successful team in the Philippines, the only locally-grown squad with a full-service training facility READ and headquartered on the 6th floor of the Nexus Center, 1010 Metropolitan Avenue, Bgy. San Antonio, Makati. BREN Esports, also known as BREN EPro, has partnered with EMERGE Sports to expand clout in Singapore.

Bernard Chong at the helm, BREN Esports has a roster of no-nonsense players for Mobile Legends Bang Bang, CS GO, PUBG, League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Clash Royale, Arena of Valor, Rules of Survival, Valorant, and Tekken. Bernard Chong is using blueprints of success from his World Balance brand and several businesses in shaping BREN Esports to the very top of the esports world.

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