MANILA, Philippines – The government’s 2 key witnesses against Senator Leila de Lima have different versions of when and how alleged drug money was brought to the embattled senator.
Testifying before the House committee on justice on Thursday, November 24, De Lima’s ex-aide and former boyfriend, Ronnie Dayan, insisted that the last time he received drug money from alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa was in November 2014.
But Espinosa told a separate Senate probe on Wednesday, November 23, that the last time he gave De Lima money through Dayan was in November 2015, in Baguio City.
Dayan disputed this, insisting this could not have happened since he was no longer De Lima’s driver-bodyguard at the time. He resigned at the start of 2015, when De Lima was still justice secretary, Dayan said. (READ: De Lima advised me to hide, skip House probe)
Both Espinosa and Dayan were put under goverment custody in a span of one week. Arrested in Abu Dhabi in October, Espinosa was brought back to Manila on November 18, more than a month after his father, former Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, was shot dead by police inside his jail cell. Kerwin Espinosa is now detained at Camp Crame.
Dayan, on the other hand, was arrested in La Union on Tuesday, November 22. After he testified at the House on Thursday, lawmakers ordered him released from their custody.
Dayan: I don’t know Espenido
Dayan denied Espinosa’s claim that it was he (Dayan) who did seek out Espinosa through Albuera police chief Chief Superintendent Jovie Espenido.
At the Senate, Espinosa said that in the first or second week of August 2015, Espenido contacted him to say that a “driver/security aide” of De Lima, then justice secretary, wanted to talk to him. The aide turned out to be Dayan.
Espinosa said Dayan promised to give protection to Espinosa in his area, and also in any other areas that he might want to expand into.
But Dayan denied knowing Espenido. He has never met him, he said.
Dayan flatly denied he was the link between De Lima and Espinosa.
Dayan: De Lima knew Espinosa
It was De Lima, according to Dayan, who knew Espinosa and who ordered him to meet with the alleged drug lord for 5 times in 2014. Dayan said he received drug money from Espinosa on those occasions, upon De Lima’s orders.
Espinosa’s affidavit however showed that his meetings with Dayan transpired in 2015.
Dayan said the meetings all occurred in 2014 – August, October, and November. Four of those meetings were at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City and one was held in Baguio City.
The idea to meet with Espinosa all came from De Lima, Dayan said.
Dayan protecting himself?
Oriental Mindoro Representative Salvador Paulino Leachon said he didn’t find Dayan credible. “You met Espinosa multiple times but you deny knowing he was a drug lord,” Leachon told Dayan.
Dayan said he knew Espinosa only to be an engineer.
Leachon expressed disbelief, saying Dayan must have executed his affidavit merely to absolve himself.
Asked about the conflicting versions of Espinosa and Dayan, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa told the House probe on Thursday that he himself “can’t say who’s telling the truth.”
But the justice department already said it has put Dayan under “provisional admission” to the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP). Some lawmakers asked the department to reconsider its decision. – Rappler.com