A former law professor turned lawmaker is convinced Senator Leila De Lima’s former driver and bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan, told the truth when he testified to receiving money for his erstwhile boss even though some details don’t match with the testimony given by suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque said he was satisfied with Dayan’s answers to his questions on meeting Espinosa at the House justice committee’s probe on the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison Thursday.
“There are five meetings [between Dayan and Espinosa]. He was able to give me an answer so that is to me acceptable,” Roque said of Dayan Friday in a television interview.
“After I asked questions, I can say his (Dayan’s) credibility is true. He is believable as far as the five instances of meeting Kerwin,” he added.
The lawmaker, however, said he found Dayan’s statements on accepting money from NBP inmates “unbelievable” though he said it was understandable.
He also found improbable Dayan’s claim that he never knew about Espinosa’s links to the drug trade.
“It would be considered perjury but I understand he (Dayan) wanted to limit his criminal liability,” Roque said.
In his testimony, Dayan confirmed Espinosa’s statement about giving De Lima money, through him, for her May 2016 senatorial campaign.
However, they gave conflicting statements as to the dates when the supposed transactions happened. Espinosa had claimed meeting Dayan four times between August 2015 and February 2016, but Dayan spoke about five meetings all happening in 2014.
Espinosa said he gave P8 million in total to Dayan, while the latter claimed not knowing how much he was delivering to De Lima.
Dayan also denied knowing any of the NBP inmates and other individuals who tagged him in the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary.
For Roque, the inconsistencies in Dayan and Espinosa’s testimonies prove they have not been coached.
“If they were told what to say, they should have the same information but there are discrepancies [in the] statements,” he said.
Roque said Dayan’s testimony firmly established the following: De Lima’s affair with a married man, that she benefitted financially from drug trafficking, and she was guilty of obstruction of justice for advising her former employee not to testify in the House probe.
In light of Dayan’s testimony, the lawmaker urged the Senate to move for De Lima’s expulsion from the chamber “to protect the integrity” of the institution.
“I’d like to see what the Senate would do, I think any senator can initiate. This is a matter of public record already. One of them can initiate it already, we are trying to save the institution,” he said.
The House justice panel has already ordered De Lima to explain why she should not be held in contempt for supposed obstruction of justice but her allies from the Liberal Party said the House "cannot proceed against a member of another house without violating the principles of co-equality and inter-chamber courtesy.”