MANILA – Ronnie Dayan, the former aide and driver of former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima, has surrendered to authorities after hiding for months.
Dayan made the headlines after no less than President Rodrigo Duterte tagged him as one of the key players in De Lima’s supposed drug network.
Dayan allegedly served as the bagman of De Lima in the latter’s drug transactions. High-profile inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) tagged him as the man to contact to reach the then-Justice Secretary.
Rumors of De Lima building a house for Dayan in the latter’s hometown in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan and alleged sex videos fueled rumors that two had indeed maintained a romantic relationship.
De Lima had never denied her romantic ties with Dayan. In a recent television interview, she eventually confirmed the long-running rumor.
De Lima, however, said she never asked Dayan to receive drug money for her.
She said Dayan using her name and influence to extort drug money from Bilibid drug lords is “within the realm of possibilities.” However, she noted that she would have known if Dayan was into illegal activities.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said De Lima’s admission of her past relationship with Dayan bolsters the drug allegations against the senator.
De Lima could also face disbarment for entering into a supposedly illicit relationship, Aguirre said. De Lima earlier stressed that Dayan had long been separated from his wife when they had their relationship.
Authorities have been hunting Dayan after the latter failed to attend hearings at the House of Representatives tackling the alleged proliferation of drugs at the national penitentiary during De Lima’s stint as Justice secretary.
A P1 million reward had also been put up for any information that would lead to Dayan's arrest.
During the hearings, several inmates said Dayan received huge sums of cash from several drug lords as protection money. They payoffs were allegedly used to fund De Lima’s senatorial campaign, an accusation the latter has repeatedly denied.
The group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption also filed charges against De Lima, Dayan and several others before the Department of Justice over the supposed drug trade at the NBP.