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MANILA, Philippines – Bren Esports celebrated a big two-hit winning streak in its camp as the Department of Justice (DOJ) cleared its founder Bernard “Bren” Chong of falsification charges from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in an October 10, 2023 order released Wednesday, January 31.
This comes just two days after the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) awarded AP.Bren – founded by Chong, but now run by AJ Ponce – a special citation at the Diamond Hotel ballroom in Manila for their title-winning run at the M5 World Championship.
“After a careful and judicious evaluation of the records and evidence presented in this case, it is the stern opinion of the undersigned panel of prosecutors that no probable cause exists against the respondents for the charges of Falsification of Commercial Documents,” read the order approved by Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento.
According to the decision, the NBI’s allegation of fraudulent receipt printing in May 2023 is “too general” and the elements of the crime of falsification are lacking in the evidence submitted by the bureau’s Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division.
Furthermore, the records submitted to the court do not indicate the period when Chong and other named entities were actually in control of the corporation, and that the complaint failed to determine the exact nature of Chong’s participation.
The decision added that “mere membership or being President does not mean knowledge, approval, and participation in the act alleged as criminal,” and that “active participation” must show.
Also, respective to the charge of printing fraudulent receipts under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), the prosecutors said “there is no authorization from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner to file a case.”
“There is no authorization from the BIR Commissioner as to the filing of the case hence, dismissible. The fact that it is being related to the Cyber Criminal Law is of no moment since the original charge is for NIRC violation,” the prosecutors added.
All in all, this decision marks another win for the controversial Chong, who was also cleared of drug smuggling charges in May 2023.
Back in the esports scene, Chong’s AP.Bren in 2024 will look to build on its recent M Series title and 2023 Southeast Asian Games gold-medal finish.
Grassroots development has also been underway for months, carrying the idea that the Philippines has the potential to be a longtime esports force in the world arena. – Rappler.com