Ronnie Dayan denies dealing with Bilibid convicts: I don’t know them

Mara Cepeda
Ronnie Dayan denies dealing with Bilibid convicts: I don’t know them
Dayan also denies transactions with former Bureau of Corrections OIC Rafael Ragos, contrary to Ragos' earlier testimony

MANILA, Philippines – “Hindi ko po kilala (I don’t know them).”

Ronnie Dayan, the former security aide turned lover of Senator Leila de Lima, denied knowing the high-profile New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates who accused him of acting as a bagman for his former boss.

“Si Joenel Sanchez po nakilala ko dahil close-in security din siya ni ma’am. Hindi ko po kilala si Rodolfo Magleo, si Engelberto Acenas Durano, si Jovencio Ablen at si Renante Diaz. Si Herbert Colanggo kilala ko lang po sa pangalan pero hindi ko pa nakikita sa personal,” said Dayan in his affidavit submitted to the House committee on justice and which he read on Thursday, November 24.

(I know Joenel Sanchez because he is a close-in security of ma’am. I do not know Rodolfo Magleo, Engelberto Acenas Durano, Jovencio Ablen, and Renante Diaz. I know Herbert Colanggo by name but I haven’t seen him in person.)

On Thursday, the House panel reopened its probe into the narcotics trade inside the NBP during De Lima’s stint as justice secretary, following Dayan’s arrest in San Juan, La Union. 

The same committee issued an arrest warrant against Dayan and cited him in contempt for failing to attend the October 6 hearing despite a subpoena. (READ: De Lima advised me to hide, skip House probe)

Dayan as collector

Several witnesses, most of whom were high-profile NBP convicts, said in previous hearings that De Lima used Dayan to collect millions worth of drug money on several occasions to fund her 2016 senatorial bid. 

Magleo, a former police chief inspector convicted for kidnapping, alleged that illegal drugs, gambling, and prostitution proliferated inside the NBP. He said Dayan collected weekly “quota” from prison gang leaders. 

Durano, another cop convicted for illegal drugs, said De Lima received P1.5 million from the late Cebu top drug lord Jeffrey Diaz alias “Jaguar” through Dayan. 

Diaz, the talent manager of high-profile inmate Colanggo, said Colanggo paid De Lima P1 million whenever the convict held a concert inside the NBP. 

While Dayan denied being De Lima’s bagman for the NBP inmates, he admitted in his testimony that he met up with alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa 5 times in 2014 to collect money for the former justice secretary. (READ: Ex-aide, boyfriend: I got Espinosa drug money for De Lima)

De Lima, who admitted having an affair with Dayan, has repeatedly denied having any links with the illegal drug trade both within and outside the NBP.

No transactions with BuCor OIC too

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) intelligence officer Ablen also told the justice committee earlier that he was present when former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos handed a bag containing P5 million to Dayan at De Lima’s residence in Parañaque City on November 24, 2012.

The two also said they made a second delivery in mid-December 2012. This time, the money was placed in a translucent plastic bag. In both instances, the money came from high-profile inmate Peter Co.

In his testimony, Dayan said he knew Ragos when the latter was still with the NBI, but denied receiving any money from him.

“Ako po ay ginawa niyang tulay para tulungan siya ilapit kay ma’am para sa promotion niya. Pero ‘yun pong salaysay ni Sir Ragos na sinasabi niyang ako daw ang tumatanggap ng 3 million, 5 million, 1.6 million na pera ay hindi po totoo. Hindi po ako tumanggap kay Sir Ragos ng gano’ng halaga,” said Dayan.

(He made me a bridge so ma’am could help him with his promotion. But Sir Ragos’ testimony that I received P3 million, P5 million, and P1.6 million is not true. I did not receive money from Sir Ragos.)

Dayan, however, said he saw Ragos personally having direct transactions with De Lima on two occasions.

The first time, Dayan saw Ragos supposedly handed an envelope to De Lima, but he did not see its contents.

“Tapos sa pangalawang bigay niya kay ma’am, isang plastic na bag na may lamang parang kahon ng sapatos pero hindi ko alam kung ano ang laman nun kasi parang style sapatos din ang laman kasi. Basta nakita ko lang na inabot ni Ragos kay Secretary De Lima nung time na ‘yun,” said Dayan.

(The second time he gave something to ma’am, it was a plastic bag containing what looked like a shoe box, but I didn’t know what was inside because it appeared that shoes were inside also. But I saw Ragos hand it to Secretary De Lima that time.) –

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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 or tweet @maracepeda.