De Lima hits senators: Citing Dayan in contempt was 'baseless'

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima criticized her colleagues for citing her former security aide turned lover Ronnie Dayan in contempt for allegedly being “evasive” in answering the senators’ questions.

De Lima said the senators’ decision was “baseless,” as it was anchored on a pre-judgment that she was linked to illegal drugs, and that Dayan had lied about it when he could not give the answer that her colleagues wanted to hear.

“In the first place, I did not really understand why they really have to do [that]. Why did my colleagues have to ask for that – to cite him in contempt? Walang basehan 'yan (It has no basis),” De Lima told reporters on Tuesday, December 6.

“In other words, there was a conclusion that both of them are lying in so far as the claim that I dealt with Kerwin Espinosa because as I’ve been telling you, I’ve never known him. I never met him before,” De Lima insisted.

It was Senator Manny Pacquiao who moved that Dayan be cited in contempt. Senators doubted Dayan’s testimony, who claimed he only received drug money from alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

The senator said since the House failed to extract credible information against her, her colleagues tried to do the same but to no avail. De Lima said the senators just resorted to pressuring Dayan.

“So since they failed, mukhang sinubukan ng ibang kasamahan dito sa Senado na gawin din ‘yon (it seems some of my colleagues here tried to do the same). And since they also failed, kaya 'yun ang ginawa nila (that's why they did it). That was so unfair,” she said.

De Lima said he intentionally did not object to the motion to cite Dayan in contempt to avoid further controversy.

“I deliberately did not make objection kasi at the back of my mind, they will make an issue out of that. That allegedly I’m being overprotective of Ronnie Dayan,” she said.

She welcomed her colleagues’ move to release Dayan just hours after he was cited in contempt on Monday evening.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the committee on public order leading the probe, said they released Dayan for “humanitarian” purposes. Lacson also cited as reason Dayan’s willingness to cooperate with the committee and attend the next hearings, if necessary.

I mean, salamat naman na mali 'yung move na yun (thank you that they realized it was a wrong move), said De Lima, referring to the release.

Senators vs De Lima?

De Lima also expressed dismay at some of her colleagues who, she said, were seemingly convinced that she is involved in illegal drugs.

She also questioned their inattention to supposed major inconsistencies in the testimonies of Espinosa and Dayan.

“These are not simple minor, innocuous inconsistencies. These are simply irreconcilable inconsistencies. I think some of my colleagues are parang naniniwala sa istorya na 'yan kay Kerwin Espinosa and then 'yung Bilibid drug trade na rin (seem convinced with Kerwin Espinosa's story and the Bilibid drug trade, too),” she said.

De Lima, thinking aloud, asked if her colleagues have also been “poisoned” by shady characters out to discredit her.  De Lima was referring to the line of questioning of some senators, who, for her, were insisting on her alleged links to illegal drugs.

“Kasi paulit-ulit nila sinusubukan 'yan. Diyan po ako nagtataka sa iba nating kasamahan. I’m so disappointed. Ano ba? May nag-popoison din kaya sa mind nila? Pati ba sila mapo-poison ng shady characters na 'yan?” she said.

(Because they kept on trying to do that. That's why I'm wondering about some of our colleagues. I'm so disappointed. What gives? Are there also people poisoning their minds? Could it be that they are also poisoned by these shady characters?)

De Lima, during the hearing, pleaded with Espinosa, Dayan, and the Albuera chief of police, Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, to tell the truth.

Citing an “A1 source,” De Lima said there are people forcing them to tie the loose ends of their testimonies.

“Sinubukan na naman sila, am sure of that. Hindi ba tinatanong ko si Espenido? I had an A1 source saying Espenido was pressured to change his story, na sabihin talaga na siya ang naging bridge ni Ronnie Dayan at ako in accessing Kerwin para magtugma,” she said.

(They're making an attempt, am sure of that. Isn't it that I asked Espenido? I had an A1 source saying Espenido was pressured to change his story, to say that he was indeed my and Ronnie Dayan's bridge to Kerwin so the stories would match.)

Espinosa earlier said it was Espenido who linked him to Dayan. Dayan and Espenido, meanwhile, denied knowing each other. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email