De Lima’s ex-driver denies transporting drug money

This file photo shows Ronnie Dayan, former aide of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, as he testifies at court. T
he STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Ronnie Dayan, the former bodyguard and driver of Sen. Leila de Lima, reiterated yesterday that he did not deliver drug money to the detained legislator.

Rolly Peoro, lawyer for De Lima, said Dayan testified yesterday before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court during the resumption of the hearing on drug charges filed against the senator.

In his affidavit, Dayan maintained that he did act as a bagman for De Lima.

Dayan said his testimony in 2016 that he transported drug money for De Lima was made “under duress” and without the benefit of a legal counsel.

“Dayan said his affidavit was done without the assistance of a counsel of his choice,” Peoro said.

Dayan insisted that he had no drug transactions with any of the inmates at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

Rafael Ragos, former Bureau of Corrections chief, had retracted his accusations against De Lima and claimed that former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre coerced him to testify against the senator. Aguirre dismissed this as lies.

Ragos is the justice department’s primary witness in the drug cases filed against De Lima.

Self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa had also recanted his allegations against the senator.

De Lima is being held at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary when she was justice secretary.

Last Friday, De Lima’s camp filed a manifestation and omnibus motion for outright dismissal of the cases filed against her following the retractions of Ragos and Espinosa.

Peoro, in an interview with reporters yesterday, said with the developments in the case, they are hoping for a favorable ruling.

“With the recantation and testimony of Dayan, I think we have a good chance that our petition for bail would be granted,” Peoro said.

Haidee Soriano, legal counsel of Dayan, said the affidavit of her client jibed with the recantation of Ragos.

“Dayan was consistent in denying that he delivered drug money for De Lima. His statement corroborated the recantation of Ragos, who admitted that he was forced by authorities to execute the statement,” Soriano said.

The hearing on the drug charges against De Lima will resume on May 30.

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