Senators cite Dayan in contempt
Senators expressed frustration over “irreconcilable inconsistencies” in the testimonies they heard on Monday, but decided they had enough of Ronnie Dayan and agreed to cite the former bodyguard and lover of Sen. Leila de Lima in contempt and had him detained.
What was billed as a square-off between Dayan and Kerwin Espinosa, the alleged No. 1 drug lord in Eastern Visayas, turned out to be a face-off between the two men and the senators.
Miffed that Dayan had insisted he had received drug protection money for De Lima from no one else other than Espinosa, Sen. Manny Pacquiao moved that the joint committee hearing cite Dayan in contempt and clapped at New Bilibid Prison.
“Do you think you can convince the people that you only got money from Kerwin?” Pacquiao asked, pointing out that there were more drug lords in Metro Manila than in Eastern Visayas.
“You have told us many lies,” the boxing champ said, stressing that he had said at one point he had no telephone number for Espinosa only to admit that he had been given Espinosa’s number to call by De Lima.
The senators decided to hold Dayan temporarily in the Senate premises. They will decide later if he should be detained at the national penitentiary.
“You cannot be always evasive. You cannot have a selective memory in the Senate,” said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chair of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV expressed displeasure at the move, noting that senators were assuming Dayan was lying and Espinosa was telling the truth. “But is there a possibility that both of them are lying?” he asked.
Trillanes suggested that both Dayan and Espinosa be held in contempt because it looked like “they were pressured to come up with stories.”
Payoff dates, meetings
Contradictions in the testimonies of Dayan and Espinosa centered on payoff dates and meetings, specifically when Espinosa had his photograph taken with De Lima at Burnham Park in Baguio City.
Dayan insisted it happened in November 2014; Espinosa in 2015.
The committees were investigating not only alleged protection money De Lima purportedly received when she was justice secretary and the Nov. 5 killing of Espinosa’s father Rolando, the mayor of Albuera, Leyte province, in his jail cell by a police team.
During the six-hour hearing, Espinosa reiterated that the Albuera police chief, Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido, had told him in August 2015 that De Lima’s bodyguard would call him to ask money for her senatorial campaign.
Espinosa testified earlier that he and Dayan talked through Espenido and that he delivered P8 million to Dayan for De Lima, even meeting her for the first time in November 2015 at Burnham Park.
For his part, Dayan had told a House inquiry that he dealt directly with Espinosa and not Espenido upon De Lima’s instruction.
Sen. Franklin Drilon asked Dayan if he knew Espenido. Dayan said no.
“So it’s impossible that you will tell Espenido to tell Kerwin that you want to talk to him?” Drilon asked. Dayan insisted he did not know Espenido.
“Someone is lying here,” Drilon said. “I think it’s obvious to the committee that there are irreconcilable inconsistencies between the testimonies of these three people—one or two of them is lying. And under the cases of the Supreme Court, irreconcilable inconsistencies are signs of fabrications and very poor fabrications at that.”
Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa was asked by Sen. Ralph Recto if he was bothered by the contrasting testimonies.
“I will be more bothered if what are coming out are not all lies. That’s why there is a discrepancy in the testimonies, because we did not pressure them so that their stories will come out as scripted,” Dela Rosa said.
After the hearing, Lacson said the only loose ends that needed to be tied up was not how Dayan and Espinosa met, or the exact time and place.
“The substantive issue here is that they corroborated that money changed hands and who got it and how much. That is clear,” he said.
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