Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa claimed on Wednesday, November 23, that he gave Senator Leila de Lima a total of P8 million for her senatorial campaign through her former driver, Ronnie Dayan.
In his testimony at the Senate inquiry into the death of his father, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr, Espinosa said that he never handed any of the money – given to Dayan in installments – directly to De Lima, nor did he ever discuss the transaction with the former justice secretary.
Espinosa detailed how he met Dayan – supposedly through Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, Albuera police chief – who introduced himself as the "driver" of De Lima. Dayan reportedly informed him that he had been instructed by De Lima to ask Espinosa for P8 million before the elections for her senatorial campaign. (READ: Kerwin Espinosa: Albuera top cop introduced me to Ronnie Dayan)
Espinosa said that in all of his meetings with Dayan, where he handed installments of the P8 million, De Lima was not present.
Espinosa said there was a point when he suspected whether De Lima knew of the transaction and if she received the money, as he had never talked to her in person. He said Dayan would always tell him that De Lima would not talk to him.
Espinosa said he eventually demanded a meeting with De Lima. In November 2015, Dayan told him that they could meet in Baguio as De Lima would be there.
He and Dayan met at Burnham Park, where De Lima had an activity. Espinosa said Dayan later introduced him to De Lima as "Batman" – his supposed code name.
Dayan went back to Espinosa and asked whether he brought the money. Espinosa said he instructed him to go the parking lot, where they arrived in separate cars. There, Dayan, who was alone in his car, received the money from Espinosa.
He said Dayan then told him that he could have a picture taken with De Lima. Espinosa said Dayan just told him and his common-law wife to just approach De Lima on their own, and ask for a photo opportunity with the senator, who was with her bodyguards. Dayan did not escort him for the photo opportunity.
Espinosa then had the photo with De Lima which later went viral.
"Nagpa-picture kami kay Ma'am Leila…tapos shake hands ako at nag-thank you ma'am. Sabi ko, 'Nandoon na ang pera kay Ronnie (We had a picture with Ma'am Leila...when we shook hands and I said, 'Thank you, Ma'am.' I said, 'The money is with Ronnie),'" he said.
Espinosa said he did not have any discussion with De Lima on the transaction.
De Lima, who was in a relationship with Dayan, is facing multiple complaints for drug trafficking before the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court. She reiterated her categorical denial about the allegations against her, including receiving any amount from Espinosa. – Rappler.com