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PH entrepreneur behind Lyka, Bren Esports hunted by authorities over alleged drug smuggling

Manila, Philippines – Bernard ‘Bren’ Chong, the entrepreneur behind the social media platform Lyka and esports company Bren Esports, is currently being hunted by the country’s National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) over allegations of drug smuggling.

In a report made by Bilyonaryo, Chong’s arrest order was made by a Manila court, and stems from allegations that Chong attempted to smuggle around PHP1.87b worth of shabu, the vernacular term of the illegal drug methamphetamine, at the Manila International Container Port (MICP).

According to National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) International Operations Division Chief Joey Moran, a manhunt is already on the way for Chong.

“Drug smuggling is a very serious case and is [a non bailable] offence. The NBI is mandated to track down and arrest fugitives regardless of their status. As long as you have a warrant of arrest, you become a subject of a manhunt,” he stated.

Chong is facing charges for violation of Section 4, Article 2 of Republic Act 9165 or importation of illegal drugs. He was already being listed by the country’s Bureau of Customs (BOC) as one of those who were involved in the smuggling of 105 containers worth PHP70m.

He is tagged in the smuggling attempt as one of the owners of Fortuneyield Cargo Services Corporation, the assigned consignee for the illegal drug shipment.

Chong’s Lyka app came under fire in 2021 after failing to register with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) as an Operator of Payment System (OPS). The app was temporarily suspended in July 2021. Lyka operates under the premise of allowing its users to purchase, exchange, and use gift cards in electronic mode or ‘GEMs’ as payment for goods and services.