De Lima in deeper trouble, says Aguirre
Sen. Leila de Lima dug herself into a deeper hole in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) drug controversy after finally confirming in a TV interview on Monday night that she and her former bodyguard and driver, Ronnie Dayan, were an item for several years, according to the justice secretary.
Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said De Lima’s admission, after months of denials, corroborated the testimony by convicted drug lords and former government executives led by her former protege, Rafael Ragos, a National Bureau of Investigation deputy director and former acting director of the Bureau of Corrections, that she used Dayan as her collector of drug money while she was the justice secretary from 2010 to 2015.
“The probability that Dayan is one of her bagmen has become even higher with her admission. She can now stop claiming that the charges made against her were fabricated because she herself admitted to the relationship with Dayan which she denied previously,” Aguirre told reporters on Tuesday.
In a statement yesterday, De Lima conceded that certain decisions and relationships in her personal life “have not been the best and the wisest,” and that she had learned her lessons.
She appealed to the public to “respect my right to privacy over my personal life and not impute any more malice.”
“I have never allowed my personal life affect my work in public service,” said De Lima, whose criticism of the administration’s war on drugs has drawn President Duterte’s ire.
Liable for adultery
“My mission right now is to stop the extrajudicial killings and summary executions happening in our country, as well as to address other social issues. I am even more determined in pursuing this goal despite the danger to my life and reputation,” she said.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said De Lima’s admission of her affair with Dayan validated the President’s accusation that the senator had “committed unlawful and immoral acts and opens her to a criminal charge of adultery, her lover being a married man.”
“She has herself to blame for the present destructive predicament she is in,” Panelo said, adding that the confession also “put a lie to her pretended protestations of innocence and her cry of being a victim of persecution.”
“It opens her to expulsion proceedings by the Senate ethics committee for immorality and grave misconduct in office, apart from opening herself to disbarment proceedings as a member of the bar for immorality and unethical conduct,” he added.
Aguirre claimed that De Lima and Dayan virtually acted as common-law wife and husband during their special relationship which should explain how an ordinary bodyguard and driver was able to act as her collector for alleged contributions to her senatorial campaign.
He said that he had ordered his staff to obtain a copy of De Lima’s TV interview to bolster the cases filed by the NBI against the senator for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, corruption and breach of ethics.
Aguirre also said that De Lima’s admission would bolster the disbarment case filed against her by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which cited not only her alleged ties to the drug trade but also her illicit relationship with a married man.
“The case for her disbarment for immorality is now stronger because the complainants don’t have to prove anything because she herself admits to cohabit with a married man. Even if they say Dayan and his wife are separated, the case is still strong because they are not yet annulled. The Supreme Court has disbarred many lawyers for less case of immorality,” Aguirre said.
The House of Representatives has issued an arrest warrant against Dayan for failing to appear in the committee investigation into the proliferation of illegal drugs in NBP.
Aguirre claimed that big-time politicians from northern Luzon, specifically Dayan’s home province Pangasinan, was harboring De Lima’s former lover.
‘Frailties of a woman’
In the interview aired on Monday night on GMA News TV, De Lima had admitted to the romantic relationship with Dayan, citing “frailties of a woman.”
It was her first categorical admission of what television host Winnie Monsod referred to in the interview as an “affair,” and said it lasted for “a few years.” Dayan is known to have been previously married.
“It’s a private matter. I’m never comfortable responding about private matters so please excuse me about that,” said De Lima, a mother of two who had earlier separated from her husband.
“My reputation has been untarnished and until now, when it’s being unfairly, unjustly besmirched by all of these fabricated lies about my alleged involvement in the drug trade,” she stressed. —WITH REPORTS FROM TARRA QUISMUNDO AND MARLON RAMOS
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