Dayan recants allegations, says De Lima did not receive drug money

Dayan recants allegations, says De Lima did not receive drug money
This file photo shows Ronnie Dayan, former aide of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, as he testifies at court.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:33 p.m.) — Sen. Leila de Lima's former aide and partner Ronnie Dayan, who stood before a Muntinlupa court, recanted the statements he made during a 2016 Congressional hearing implicating her in the illegal drug trade in Bilibid Prison.

De Lima's legal counsel Atty. Rolly Peoro said Dayan was presented as a witness in a hearing about Criminal Case 165 at the Muntinlupa court, and affirmed a judicial affidavit where he retracted his earlier claims against the lawmaker, De Lima's office said in a statement on Friday. 

"His testimony before the Congressional hearing in September 2016 was all forced and due to intimidation. So nirecant niya lahat yung sinasabi niya. The testimony was not voluntary," Peoro said, citing Dayan's judicial affidavit. 

Dayan did not give names on the people who coerced him, but said it was former Rep. Rey Umali (Oriental Mindoro) who allegedly told him to confirm the statements of confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa. 

Umali has passed away. Asked how they intend to corroborate the Dayan's statements, Peoro said there is no way to do so. 

"But this is all consistent with the testimony of Kerwin Espinosa, Rafael Ragos and now Ronnie Dayan na different members of the government are doing their part to coerce the witnesses against Senator Leila de Lima," he said.

Self-confessed drug lord Espinosa and former Bureau of Corrections OIC Ragos are key witnesses who retracted their testimonies about De Lima's supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade, saying that they were forced by authorities to make their statements. 

'No delivery of drug money'

In Dayan's judicial affidavit, according to Peoro, the former confirmed "there was no delivery of ten million [worth of drug money] to him or De Lima."

Dayan's legal counsel Haidee Soriano said he has also denied allegations that he received money from drug activities for and on behalf of De Lima. 

Dayan was also said to have claimed he did not have any links or was involved in any transaction with the inmates of Bilibid.

De Lima has been detained at Camp Crame, Quezon City, for five years over drug charges she has insisted are made up and are motivated by politics. She is an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration. 

Last year, a Muntinlupa court acquitted her in one case, saying the prosecution "failed to elicit strong evidence to sustain a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt on the part of De Lima."

She still faces two more drug cases. — Angelica Y. Yang

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