De Lima video not shown but lurid details bared in House probe
MANILA — No sex tape purportedly featuring Sen. Leila De Lima was shown at the resumption of the House inquiry on the clandestine drug trade at the national penitentiary but that didn’t stop the lawmakers from hearing lurid details about it anyway.
The House justice committee resumed on Thursday its inquiry on drug trafficking inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), which was said to have flourished during the term of De Lima as justice secretary.
The panel chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali allowed 40-year-old Joenel Sanchez, a former close-in aide of De Lima and member of the Presidential Security Group, to talk about what he claimed to be the “extraordinary relationship” between the freshman senator and her former driver Ronnie Dayan, the man whom President Duterte has accused of collecting drug protection money for De Lima, from Bilibid drug lords.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II presented Sanchez as a witness supposedly to establish the link between De Lima and Dayan, who allegedly collected payoffs from drug lords and gang leaders at Bilibid on behalf of his boss.
In the affidavit he read out during his testimony, Sanchez said he was assigned to De Lima’s security detail from July 2010 to May 2015.
During the course of his work, he said he observed first-hand her closeness to Dayan, who was head of all the security aides assigned to the then-justice secretary. “Later I confirmed their relationship because Ronnie Dayan was sleeping in SOJ (Secretary of Justice) De Lima’s house,” he said.
“In out-of-town trips, they would stay in one room. We would also often go to SOJ De Lima’s house in Bicol, and their sweetness was obvious,” he said. In one provincial trip, he said he saw the two feeding each other boiled bananas.
Sanchez said De Lima was also generous with Dayan and would buy him his favorite brandy and cigarettes whenever they went grocery shopping, as well as ‘barong,’ shoes and other personal belongings.
“It came to a point when Dayan directly boasted of his relationship with SOJ De Lima,” he said.
In 2012, Sanchez claimed that De Lima’s driver, whom he identified only as “Bantam,” showed him Dayan’s mobile phone and played two private videos showing De Lima, one of her alone and another with Dayan.
“I felt awkward watching so I stopped watching,” he said.
Last week, Aguirre warned the beleaguered senator that he might be compelled to present the alleged private videos of her and her Dayan to establish their relationship.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he found nothing wrong with playing the supposed sex tape in the congressional inquiry.
But Aguirre and House leaders backed down after a maelstrom of protests erupted against the plan. Several senators, women’s groups, social media activists and human rights advocates accused the House of misogyny.
De Lima, one of the strongest critics of President Duterte, is at the center of the House inquiry on her alleged connection to drug lords.
She has refused to appear at the House hearing, questioning the credibility of the witnesses and claiming the probe is nothing more than a retaliatory attack by Mr. Duterte’s allies. SFM/rga
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