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De Lima: Duterte admin turned Dayan against me

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday, November 23, blamed the Duterte administration for the damning statement of former security aide and ex-lover Ronnie Dayan, linking her to alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

"It appears that Ronnie Dayan has been successfully turned into another one of my accusers by this administration,” De Lima said in a statement.

Dayan, just hours after his arrest in La Union on Tuesday, November 22, admitted that he was in a 7-year relationship with the senator and that he received money for her from Espinosa.

De Lima denied this anew, saying she does not even know Espinosa.

"Ronnie's claim is absolutely untrue. I don't know Kerwin and neither does Ronnie. He knows that," she said in a text message.

De Lima pointed out Dayan was no longer working for her when she allegedly received money through him in 2015.

"If 2015, hindi ko na tao si Ronnie (Ronnie was no longer part of my staff then). So how could I have ordered him to get money from Kerwin? Kaya lang, siyempre, and as expected, napilitan na rin si Ronnie magsinungaling (But of course, as expected, Ronnie has been forced to lie)," the senator said.

Despite this, De Lima said Dayan's arrest and allegations would now allow her to clear her name before the court. She is facing multiple complaints for drug trafficking before the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court.

"Nevertheless, I welcome this as an opportunity to clear my name as soon as all these fiction stories of the underworld are weaved into a complete but grotesque tapestry and finally filed before a court of law where I can properly defend myself," the senator said.

"And even as they portrayed Ronnie Dayan as the missing link to their drug conspiracies, his arrest and so-called admissions yesterday present an opportunity for me to put this issue to a close," she added.

The senator reiterated her call for authorities to treat witnesses, including Dayan, properly – "without abusing power and using force and intimidation."

Fabrications still

De Lima maintained all accusations linking her to illegal drugs are fake and only part of political persecution.

"May justice and truth prevail today and the days to come, as we sort out the truth from the lies that are easily weaved into this tall-tale narrative of a human rights and justice advocate turned drug queen," she said.

De Lima and Duterte have long been at odds over the issue of human rights, when the former was still chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Duterte was still Davao City mayor.

She drew the ire of Duterte anew after she launched a probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings barely 3 months into his administration.

In response, Duterte publicized De Lima's relationship with Dayan, as he linked the two to the proliferation of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary during De Lima's term as justice chief.

Dayan, despite his statement against De Lima, still encouraged her to keep on fighting all the allegations being thrown at her.

"Magpakatatag siya. Labanan niya ang mga [ibinabato sa kanya] (Be strong. Fight all the issues being hurled at you)," said Dayan.

Dayan is set to testify before the House probe into the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison on Thursday, November 24. He will "tell all" to congressmen, according to Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, 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