CA clears Bren Esports founder of drug smuggling charges

The Court of Appeals has overturned the Manila City Regional Trial Court’s decision to charge Bernard “Bren” Chong, owner of esports powerhouse Bren Esports, for his alleged involvement in a botched drug smuggling operation.

Chong was earlier named by the Manila RTC as one of the accused and co-conspirators in smuggling illegal drugs at the Manila International Container Port.

On 1 July 2022, Chong filed a Petition for Certiorari, citing the Manila court for grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it refused to quash the warrant of arrest and dismiss the criminal cases against the founder of one of Southeast Asia’s most successful esports organizations.

“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,” Associate Justice Bonifacio Pascua stated in the order.

Pascua also ordered the dismissal of the case and revoked the issued warrant of arrest.

The National Bureau of Investigation launched a manhunt operation against Chong for his alleged ties to Fortuneyield Cargo Services Corporation, the company whose name was found on the shipment containing the illegal substances in 2019.

Chong presented documents that he was no longer connected with Fortuneyiled long before the commission of the alleged importation of illegal drugs.

Chong submitted a certification by the notary public as well as the General Information Sheet and Board Resolution in June and July 2018 showing that he has assigned his shares of stocks to Fortuneyield president Jaymark De Vicente.

“Wherefore, premised considered, the instant petition is granted. Accordingly, judgement is hereby rendered annulling and setting aside the assailed orders dates September 13, 2021; October 25, 2021; and April 29, 2022 issued by the RCT-Manila, Branch 53 in Criminal Case No. R-MNL-20-0002-CR,” Pascua ordered.

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

Bren Esports athletes make up the core of the national team, Sibol, participating in the Mobile Legends competition of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.

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

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