Ronnie Dayan has 24 hours to respond to contempt citation

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ronnie Dayan, Senator Leila De Lima’s alleged bagman, failed to appear during the House hearing into the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), and congressmen want to cite him in contempt for it.

Ten hours into the hearing on Thursday, October 6, the House committee on justice unanimously decided to cite Dayan in contempt for his absence despite being issued a subpoena on October 1.

A certain Ernesto Florita received Dayan’s subpoena for him at his residence at Urbiztondo, Pangasinan.

Dayan is a former driver and bodyguard of De Lima, who has been accused by past witnesses for allowing drugs to proliferate at the NBP to help fund her 2016 senatorial bid. Dayan supposedly acted as a bagman for De Lima.  

Former Police Officer 3 Engelberto Durano, serving time in the NBP for illegal drugs, also linked Dayan and De Lima to Jeffrey Diaz aka "Jaguar," an alleged top drug lord in Cebu.

Despite the subpoena and mainstream media’s coverage of the probe, House committee on justice chairperson Reynaldo Umali said Dayan still did not show up on Thursday. 

We had mga 10 members so meron kaming quorum and wala namang objection so unanimous ‘yung vote to cite him in contempt (We had 10 members so we have a quorum, and we unanimously voted to cite him in contempt). In fact, the secretariat is already working on the arrest order to be signed hopefully by the Speaker [Pantaleon Alvarez],” said Umali.

A few minutes later, however, Majority Leader and committee on rules chairperson Rodolfo Fariñas made a motion that Dayan should be given a chance to explain why he should not be cited in contempt. 

Citing the House rules, Fariñas said committees may punish a person in contempt upon a vote of 2/3 of all its members present in a quorum if there is “refusal without legal excuse to obey summons.”

“We are not yet determined if he has a legal excuse or not. So the first thing that we should do is let him explain why he should not be cited in contempt for failing to obey the summons. For all we know, he might have a legal excuse, so it would be too haste on our part to cite him in contempt without hearing him first,” explained Fariñas.

All the committee members agreed, giving Dayan 24 hours upon receipt of the order to defend himself. 

What happens if he fails to explain?

"He will be charged with indirect contempt before the court, which will hear the complaint and order his arrest," said Fariñas.

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself first accused De Lima of having an illicit affair with Dayan. He claimed that De Lima recorded a sex tape with Dayan. 

The alleged sex video was originally planned to be shown at the probe, but backlash from women’s rights advocates prompted Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to just present another witness who could describe its content. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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