In La Union, he was Orlando
DAGUPAN CITY—Ronnie Dayan, the former driver and lover of Sen. Leila de Lima, went by the alias Orlando and was generous to his neighbors in his hideout, according to residents of Barangay Lacong in San Gabriel, La Union province.
That’s why, they said, they could not believe that Dayan had been hiding in their village for three months until his arrest on Tuesday.
“He introduced himself to the residents here as Orlando and his nickname was Dodong. Nobody knew his surname,” said Wenceslao Espada, a village council member.
“He was friendly. He would often spend for pulutan (bar chow) whenever he drank with residents here. He even spent for the ampalaya seeds for the farmers in the village so that they would have another source of income,” he said.
“I was surprised. I never expected [Dayan] would hide here,” he added.
Dayan, who is from Barangay Galarin in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan province, was arrested in Sitio Turod in Barangay San Felipe in San Juan town, also in La Union.
He moved to Lacong in August after President Duterte named him as De Lima’s bagman in the illegal drug trade in New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Dayan’s brother, Raul, lives in neighboring Bacnotan town.
Espada said Dayan stayed in a bamboo hut he built in a farm owned by a relative of his nephew’s wife in Sitio Bato in Lacong.
Going about town
Although Sitio Bato has electricity, only a few of its 200 residents have television.
Some residents who may have seen Dayan’s picture on TV would not have suspected that he was the same person who was in their village because “the man from Urbiztondo has a big white house,” Espada said.
“Besides, the one shown on TV wore barong while the man in our village was a farmer,” he said.
Dayan, he said, would ride on a motorcycle without a helmet to buy goods and provisions in Bacnotan, which is more accessible from his hiding place in Sitio Bato than the town center of San Gabriel. Sitio Bato is at the boundary of Bacnotan and San Juan.
“I was told he once parked his motorcycle near the San Gabriel police station,” Espada said.
At one time, he said, somebody in the town recognized Dayan, but was convinced by friends it was unlikely De Lima’s former driver was hiding in Bacnotan.
Dayan’s nephew, Jomar Dayan, was often seen going to his hut to bring food and feed for his fighting cocks, Espada said.
On Monday morning, policemen swooped down on Sitio Bato. But Dayan, who was watering his ampalaya plants, managed to elude the raiding team and hid in a forested area nearby.
“The team did not leave the place until Dayan was arrested on Tuesday,” Espada said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.