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After Ragos’ retraction, Dayan testifies: No drug money delivered to De Lima

Ronnie Dayan answers questions at the House of Representatives during the hearing on the supposed illegal drugs trade in Bilibid. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

 Dayan accused lawmaker of forcing him to lie during 2016 House probe

MANILA — Detained Senator Leila de Lima’s former bodyguard told a Muntinlupa court Friday that no delivery of drug money to De Lima’s house happened.

Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s co-accused in one of her 2 pending drug cases, testified for the first time as part of his defense evidence.

His lawyer Haidee Soriano told the media that Dayan affirmed the content of his judicial affidavit executed on April 23, 2022, where he denied the initial allegations of former Bureau of Corrections OIC Rafael Ragos.

“The judicial affidavit, in essence, is dine-deny nya yung allegations ng mga witnesses na may nangyaring deliveries of money na ni-receive daw nya, allegedly from the drug activities,” she said.

Ragos claimed he personally delivered a total of P10 million to Dayan at De Lima’s house in November and December 2012, when she was still Justice secretary, supposedly as part of her share in the alleged illegal drug trade.

Ragos later recanted his testimony, saying he was coerced by then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and other DOJ officials.

In his judicial affidavit, Dayan said it would have been impossible for Ragos to have delivered the money to De Lima’s house in Parañaque supposedly on a weekend because he was in Pangasinan at that time.

“Sabado raw po sila pumunta sa bahay ni Sec. De Lima. Wala po ako sa bahay ni Sec. De Lima kapag weekend dahil day-off ko po iyon,” Dayan said.

“Umuuwi ako sa Pangasinan at Biyernes ng gabi pa lang ay nandoon na ako sa bahay namin sa Pangasinan,” he added.

He also cited the strict security in De Lima’s subdivision and that Ragos only went to De Lima’s house once, not to deliver money but to join his wife in helping De Lima fix Christmas decors.

Dayan also denied knowing any of the drug convicts and inmates supposedly linked to him in the alleged illegal drug trade.

For the lawyers of Dayan and De Lima, Dayan’s testimony is consistent with Ragos’ retractions.

“Ronnie Dayan was very consistent in denying na nagkaroon nga ng delivery or tumanggap siya mula kay Ragos ng pera para kay Sec. De Lima. Yun yung content ng kanyang affidavit, judicial affidavit. At nagko-coincide actually siya dun sa recantation dahil inamin ng naman ni Mr. Ragos na he was actually forced by some authorities para mag-execute ng ganung salaysay din,” Soriano said.

“It is very consistent, very parallel…actually it confirms ‘yung sinasabi ko kanina na wala talagang delivery kay Sen. Leila de Lima,” Rolly Peoro, De Lima’s lawyer, also said.

In the same hearing, Dayan recanted his testimony at the House of Representatives in 2016 that he supposedly received drug money from self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

Dayan instead accused the late former House Justice committee chair Rep. Rey Umali of forcing him to testify against De Lima at the House of Representatives following his arrest in La Union.

He claimed Umali coerced him to say he received drug money from Espinosa when he only met Espinosa during a Senate hearing.

“Noong panahon na iyon hindi po ako malaya at may mga bantay ako na armadong mga pulis habang nakapiit ako sa isang holding room sa loob ng Batasan. Inaresto po ako sa La Union at sapilitang dinala sa Kongreso at doon na ako pinilit ni Cong. Umali na gumawa ng kwento, na dungtungan ko ang kwento ni Kerwin Espinosa,” he said in his judicial affidavit.

He added it was Umali’s lawyer who drafted the statement that he read during the House hearing, clarifying that he had no lawyer when he was forced to sign an affidavit at the House of Representatives.

Umali died in January 2021 due to liver cancer and COVID-19.

Espinosa had also retracted all his allegations against De Lima, although he did not identify who supposedly pressured him to testify against the senator.

De Lima’s lawyer is hoping the latest retractions will convince the court to junk De Lima’s drug case or, at the very least, allow her to post bail.

“In our arguments, we are very confident that these new developments will give us a favorable ruling regarding our manifestation and motion for another look at our demurrer and bail motion,” Peoro said.

“Hopefully, ma-dismiss na ‘yung kaso. Wala na kasi. There’s no reasonable, there’s no more substantial evidence, much more strong evidence against Sen. Leila de Lima,” he added.

De Lima is facing 2 drug cases. A third case was junked last year.

This was De Lima’s first public appearance since she lost her Senate reelection bid in Monday’s polls.

She ranked 23rd with 7.2 million votes based on the latest data from the Comelec transparency server.

“Salamat po sa suporta. Salamat sa dasal. Magdasal tayo lagi. Magdasal tayo lagi para sa ating bayan,” De Lima said as she was ushered into the coaster at the end of the hearing for her ride back to the PNP Custodial Center.

Dayan, meanwhile, stayed mum.

He will continue undergoing cross-examination on June 17 and 24, as the prosecution has yet to secure a certified true copy of the congressional records of Dayan’s testimony at the House of Representatives.

De Lima is expected to present her evidence in July.

Present during the hearing were former Rep. Erin Tañada and De Lima’s running mate, labor leader Sonny Matula, who both expressed support for the senator.

“Continue the good fight. A lot of people are behind her… Hopefully, the rule of law will prevail and Sen. Leila will be acquitted,” Tañada said.

“Tuloy lang ang laban sa korte at palagay ko, darating din ang araw na ang katarungan ay maibigay kay Senator De Lima. Naniniwala ako na ang kasaysayan naman ay pumapabor sa hustisya at palagay ko, pagkatapos ng mga proceedings ay ma-aacquit si Senator De Lima,” Matula said.

De Lima has spent more than 5 years in detention, fighting drug cases that she calls political persecution.

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