RONNIE Dayan, former bodyguard and lover of Senator Leila de Lima, corroborated the claim of suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa that the former Justice secretary received drug money five times from Espinosa in 2014.
Appearing at the congressional hearing conducted by the House committee on justice, Dayan reiterated his earlier disclosure that he collected the drug money from Espinosa and delivered it to De Lima.
“I had collected money from Kerwin Espinosa for Secretary De Lim, about five times. The money that was handed to me was secured in a small paper bag. I did not bother to count it and Kerwin did not even tell [me] the amount,” Dayan said.
He said every time the money was handed to him, Espinosa would tell him: “Here’s her share.”
Dayan said he would receive the money and place it in the front seat of the car.
“I did not have any idea how much… was inside the paper bag because I never opened it..,” Dayan said.
Dayan recounted that Espinosa handed him money for De Lima in several instances in 2014: once in August, once in October, and three times in November.
“Kerwin himself handed over the money… and I passed it on to ma’am when I got home–in the room,” Dyan said, referring to De Lima.
“That was automatic [no more questions asked]… that it was a secret… and so I did not bring it in her office but straight to her residence instead,” he added.
Dayan said he met Kerwin during the first four times to collect the alleged drug money at a shopping mall in Pasay City; while the last time was at the parking lot of the place where Espinosa was then staying in Baguio City.
Dayan said Espinosa checked in at the place on Nov. 19, 2014. Three days later, he met with De Lima.
Dayan said whenever he would meet with Espinosa he was always alone.
Dayan also recounted before the House justice committee an instance when he asked money from De Lima.
“She got money from the paper bag. I told her I need to go on a day off and I did not have any cash.. She would then give P25,000 to P30,000,” Dayan said.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said both Espinosa and Dayan would be given protection following their testimonies at the Senate and the House of Representatives, pending review and approval of their eligibility as state witnesses.
Espinosa, who admitted operating his drug business in Leyte and other parts of the Visayas, testified that he gave P8 million in drug money to De Lima. Dayan, on the other hand, admitted receiving money from Espinosa.
“They will be under provisional coverage for the meantime while we are evaluating their qualification for witness protection. When both of them are formally placed under the program, that’s the time they will be placed under our custody,” Aguirre said.
Espinosa and Dayan would be given several privileges once covered by WPP, including provision of a housing facility or safe house that could be extended to members of their families, financial assistance, assistance in obtaining a means of livelihood, payment equivalent of salary as compensation for absences in work, travel expenses and medical expenses.
Witnesses under WPP who die would also be given death benefits, including free college education for their children.
Aguirre said they were examining the affidavits of the two witnesses as “the last pieces of the puzzle” in the drug trafficking charges against De Lima, which will undergo preliminary investigation in the department.
“For them to qualify as state witnesses for WPP coverage, they must appear to be not the most guilty in the crimes charged,” Aguirre said.
He added that while the two could be used as state witnesses, it would be the court that will decide if they would be granted immunity from indictment in the drug charges.