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De Lima’s ex-aide to testify at Bilibid drugs hearing

Mara Cepeda
De Lima’s ex-aide to testify at Bilibid drugs hearing
Senator Leila De Lima's ex-security aide has supposedly seen the former justice secretary's alleged sex video with her driver who received money from drug lords

MANILA, Philippines – A former security aide of Senator Leila De Lima is set to testify as the House committee on justice resumes its probe into the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Thursday, October 6.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II told reporters on Wednesday that Philippine Air Force Sergeant Joenel Sanchez, who was De Lima’s bodyguard when she was still justice secretary, will be among the witnesses to be presented during the hearing. 

Aguirre said Sanchez would be able to prove De Lima’s true relationship with her former driver and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan. President Rodrigo Duterte accused the senator of having an affair with Dayan, who allegedly acted as bagman for bribes given by drug lords for De Lima’s senatorial campaign. (READ: The public trial of Leila de Lima)

Sinabi ni Jonel na nakita niya iyong . [Iniwan] ni Dayan ang kanyang cellphone, so pinakialaman nung mga security. May nakita sila,” Aguirre said. (Jonel said he saw the video. Dayan left his cellphone and the security detail looked at it. They saw something.)

He was referring to the alleged sex video of De Lima with Dayan, which the House leadership originally approved for viewing during the hearings this week. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he was okay with this move, as it would reveal De Lima’s relationship with Dayan. 

Various groups and lawmakers protested the showing of the alleged video, calling it “illegal” and “misogynistic.” (READ: Senate backs De Lima vs planned showing of video)

On October 4, Aguirre said the video would no longer be shown because he found a witness who can testify about De Lima and Dayan. 

High-profile inmates and two National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents testified against De Lima in the first two hearings.

They claimed that she allowed drugs to proliferate inside the national penitentiary and used millions of drug money to fund her 2016 senatorial campaign. (READ: Bilibid probe: Why did drugs proliferate behind bars?

Apart from Dayan and Sanchez, the House committee on justice issued subpoenas to the following individuals to attend the October 6 hearing: 

  • Jaybee Sebastian, influential NBP gang leader who allegedly helped collect drug money for De Lima
  • Franklin Jesus Bucayu, former Bureau of Corrections chief
  • Reginald Villasanta, former Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission executive director

Sebastian, however, sustained injuries after a riot broke out at the NBP’s Building 14, where high-profile convicts are housed. Sebastian was hurt along with 3 others, while convict Tony Co died because of his wounds. 

Alvarez was suspicious of the riot, saying “forces” are out to stop Sebastian from testifying before congressmen.

Aguirre said Sebastian would need to secure a medical certificate if he will be unable to appear on Thursday. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.