Lost opportunity
PEOPLE - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - November 28, 2016 - 12:00am

Senator Leila de Lima had the rare and wonderful opportunity last week to bare before the nation the truth about allegations she accepted money tainted with illegal drugs to fund her campaign for the Senate. This happened when the Senate, investigating the murder of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, had as a resource person, the son of Espinosa himself, Kerwin, an alleged drug lord.

In that hearing, in which de Lima herself was present, Kerwin narrated to the Senate the details and circumstances about the total of eight million pesos that he said he gave to de Lima by way of her then driver and bodyguard, and acknowledged lover, Ronnie Dayan. That hearing, covered live by practically all TV networks in the country, gave de Lima the opportunity to put the matter to rest.

But de Lima did not say anything. She did not ask Kerwin a single question. The only time she spoke was after the hearing, when she told reporters she forgave Kerwin for all his lies. To be sure, the hearing does not prove anything. A congressional hearing is not a judicial proceeding. But considering that it was being seen nationwide, it should have been the time for de Lima to confront Kerwin with his "lies."

De Lima, whether in a manner worthy of the dignity of the Senate or with the characteristic fury of a woman scorned, could have told Kerwin to his face that he was lying. Even if the hearing was not a judicial proceeding, the bar of public opinion that hung at every word and demeanor heard and seen on TV was there for de Lima to take advantage of.

But de Lima opted to stay quiet. Now she and her supporters can always argue that it was all for the preservation of her dignity and honor, that she did not want to tangle with a self-confessed drug lord who no longer had anything to lose. Unfortunately for de Lima, out the window had long flown her dignity and honor. In and out of judicial proceedings, she has lost more than she was prepared to lose.

And she lost it the moment she admitted her relationship with Dayan. Her enemies and critics can take that admission where they want to take it. All that it will bring them are incremental winnings, the so-called icing on their cake. The real victory for them, which essentially is the real loss for de Lima, happened with the admission.

When de Lima admitted in public her relationship with Dayan, it opened up everything that was possible about her. Anything that she denies of all the charges made against her will always harken back to that admission. Her affair with Dayan has become the single weakest chain in her armor. It has become her greatest vulnerability.

That is perhaps why de Lima chose to no longer confront Kerwin and tell him to his face that he was lying. She knew it no longer mattered what she said to or did with Kerwin in the wake of the Dayan affair, which she first denied, then hinted at, and finally fully admitted. This vacillation showed some incapability on her part to be straightforward. And because Dayan is legally married, it showed a de Lima that was contrary to her self-proclamations.

Besides, de Lima is a brilliant lawyer, a bar topnotcher. She was intelligent enough to see what was ahead if she dared to confront Kerwin. There is no telling what can happen in a Senate hearing. De Lima opted to hedge on her losses. Unfortunately for her, there is no succor that is humanly possible for her. Her only succor now is with God. But she can only tap into that infinite resource of grace if she herself chooses to be contrite.


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