But De Lima says it's all part of the administration's "grand plan" against her
Alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa has linked Senator Leila de Lima to the illegal drug trade, Senator Manny Pacquiao said Tuesday.
Pacquiao, who talked with Espinosa for an hour after the latter's return to the country last week, said the younger Espinosa only linked one senator as having received drug money.
"Ayon sa kanyang sinabi sa akin ay si Leila de Lima," he said.
(According to what he told me, it's Leila de Lima.)
He said Espinosa allegedly received a call from someone who introduced himself as an aide of De Lima.
"Sabi niya, paano niya masigurado na tao siya ni De Lima? In short, sabi niya, kinokotahan siya para daw sa eleksyon," he said.
(He said, how would he guarantee that the person is De Lima's aide? In short, he said, a quota was set for him for the election)
"Marami pa siyang kuwento na nagugulat ako, na parang paano niya nasigurado, and then nagbibigay na siya ng parang tariff doon sa tao na yun," he added.
(He said many other things that surprised me, like how he can be sure...And then he was already giving something like a tariff to that person.)
According to Pacquiao, Espinosa wanted to verify if De Lima herself knew about the transactions.
He said the younger Espinosa went to Baguio where he met De Lima.
"Yun daw, may mga pagkakataon na nagkikita dito sa MOA (Mall of Asia) saka yung tao niya, tapos pinapunta siya doon sa Baguio... Pinapunta siya sa Baguio and then doon na-meet niya mismo si De Lima and then sinabi niya nagbigay siya doon," said Pacquiao.
(There were times when they would meet in MOA (Mall of Asia) with the aide, and then he was told to go to Baguio. He was told to go to Baguio and then he personally met De Lima there, and he said he gave money then.)
He said De Lima allegedly told Espinosa, "Okay, alam mo na na siya ang may utos sa akin."
Pacquiao later identified the aide who was in contact with Espinosa as De Lima's former driver-lover, Ronnie Dayan.
“Paano s’ya napunta sya Baguio? Dahil itong si Dayan ang kumo-contact pala sa kanya. Tapos pinapunta sya ni Dayan du’n sa Baguio,” he said.
(Why did he go to Baguio? It turned out it was Dayan who contacted him and asked him to go to Baguio.)
“Hindi naman niya alam na may relasyon silang dalawa (De Lima and Dayan). Basta tao siya ni De Lima, tapos pinapunta siya sa Baguio and then nagkita sila doon. Tapos sinabi na-meet niya si De Lima. ‘O alam mo na na siya ang may utos sa akin,’” he said.
(He did not know that De Lima and Dayan were in a relationship. All he knew was he was De Lima's aide, and he was asked to go to Baguio, and then they met there. Then he said he met with De Lima. 'Now you know that she was the one who gave orders to me.')
Pacquiao said Espinosa claimed to have given De Lima a total of P8-million, given monthly in staggered amounts.
The money, he said, was supposedly in exchange for protection for Espinosa and his family.
"Ang sabi sa kaniya, kung di ka mag-[bigay], magkaka-problema ka. Tapos hindi lang siya ang binanggit, kundi yung mga pulis pa na--mas marami siyang pulis na binanggit doon, local police, at kinuwento niya paano niya masigurado na secured kami," he said.
"Iniinform siya in advance, sinasabi sa kaniya, 'o, mag-checkpoint kami diyan, wag kayong dumaan diyan; dito kayo sa barangay na ito','O ngayon, wag kayo sa barangay na 'yan kasi mag-checkpoint kami dyan; doon kayo sa barangay na ganiyan.' Ang pulis ang nag-instruct sa kaniya," he added.
(He is being informed in advance, "We'll have a checkpoint there, don't pass there; pass through this other village','Now, don't pass through that village because we will have a checkpoint there; pass through the other village.' The policemen instruct him.)
De Lima earlier said she expected Espinosa to tag her in his alleged drug deals as part of the Duterte administration's plan to malign her.
Police earlier produced a photo of De Lima with the Espinosa family at Burnham Park in Baguio City, which allegedly proved the connection between the Espinosas and the senator.
Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, who presided over the hearing as chair of the Public Order and Illegal Drugs Committee, pointed out that it is not uncommon for politicians to have their photos taken with the public.
"Sanay na sanay kami na lalakad lang kami d'yan, may magpa-picture. Hindi kaya ganoon ang nangyari kay Senator De Lima na nagkita sila sa Burnham, nagkataong nasa Baguio si Senator De Lima at nagpa-picture ngayon sina Kerwin?" he argued.
Reacting to Pacquiao's statements, De Lima said, "Oh my goodness gracious. So, nili-link na naman nila kay Dayan?"
"Tingnan ninyo siguro yung supposedly affidavit ni Mayor Espinosa--hindi ko pa nabasa yun--but did they ever mention Ronnie Dayan before? Ngayon lang nila ulit kinakabit na naman," she said.
Speaking to reporters outside the Senate Hall, she reiterated that she did not receive any money from any alleged drug lord.
"Dapat po nag-iisip tayo. Yang mga ganiyang moves nila, ang [purpose] na naman niya, pahihiyain ako. I'm telling you, I have not received a single centavo from Kerwin Espinosa, whether directly or indirectly, in any instance, in the same manner that I have not received a single centavo from those so-called drug lords na nag-testify, yung mga drug convicts na nag-testify sa House inquiry."
"Lahat po ito ay malaking kasinungalingan," she said.
She maintained she does not know Kerwin or any other member of the Espinosa family.
"Sinasabi ko po sa inyo, hindi ko po siya kilala. Never ko po siyang matandaan na na-meet ko na siya o ang pamilya niya. Wala po akong kilala sa Espinosa family, including yung yumao na niyang ama," she said.
"So, imbento na naman po yan kung ganiyan nga po ang kalalabasan na sasabihin tumanggap ako [ng] this and that amount on this and that occasion," she added.
She also said there is no truth to the claim that she met with Kerwin in Baguio.
"Hindi po totoo 'yan. Wala pong nakikipag-meet diyan kay Espinosa dahil unang una, hindi ko nga po kilala yan. So bakit ako mag-uutos ng kung sino man na i-meet siya at kausapin siya para humingi ng pera na in the first place hindi ko nga kilala," she said.
De Lima said she will attend Wednesday's probe into the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Kerwin's father, where Kerwin himself is expected to attend.
She added, however, she has no plans of questioning the younger Espinosa just yet, but will listen intently.
"What did I tell you? Kasi no-brainer talaga yan--na tinatanong ako bakit alam mo na idadawit ka ni Kerwin Espinosa? No brainer yan, wag na ho tayong maglokohan. Talaga namang expected naman na ituturo na naman ako, katulad ng mga naging witness sa House inquiry saka pinalagay nga ako dun sa supposed affidavit ng kaniyang ama, si Mayor Espinosa," she said.
"Lahat ng ito, kasama ito dyan sa grand plan nila na lahat na lang ng tungkol sa droga, ay ikakabit nila kay Senator Leila de Lima, kasi ang tawag po sa akin ng ating Pangulo, ay ako na daw po ang leading narco-politician dito sa bansang ito dahil ako nga daw po ang dahilan kung bakit narco-state na daw po ang Pilipinas," she added.
She then quipped that she does not know if President Rodrigo Duterte understands what a "narco-state" is despite the latter's statements.
"Hindi ko po alam kung alam niya ang pinagsasasabi niya na narco-state na ang Pilipinas. Hindi ko alam kung naiinitindihan ng ating Pangulo kung anong ibig sabihin ng isang narco-state," she said.
She also asserted the unfolding events are part of the follow-through of Duterte's narrative.
"Pinapanindigan na lang po nila yan dahil yan ang gusto ng Pangulo. Lahat tungkol sa droga dito sa Pilipinas ay ikakabit, idadawit si Senator Leila de Lima," she said.
De Lima compared the killing of the elder Espinosa to the stabbing incident inside the New Bilibid Prison, saying the same scare tactic was done to urge Kerwin and Jaybee Sebastian to speak against her.
"Andiyan na si Kerwin Espinosa, and tingnan niyo, pinapatay na yung tatay; pinatay na rin yung mga iba pa na identified with him. Di ba may mga two or three more personalities who died under suspicious circumstances din, including his--is that ex-wife or ex-partner," she said.
"So pinapatay na sila lahat so walang choice si Kerwin Espinosa, katulad din ni Jaybee Sebastian na kailangan muna nila takutin sa pamamagitan ng riot na yun, alleged riot na yun sa Bilibid, bago siya nakumbinsi na mag-testify at magsinungaling din tungkol sa akin," she added.
"So ganiyan na naman."
The first-time senator said the allegations will not deter her from performing her duties as a legislator.
"Hindi naman pupuwede na just because expected na a-attend si Kerwin bukas at magte-testify at ituturo nga raw ako ay hindi ako magpapakita dahil ang ginagawa ko po ngayon ay ginagawa ko po ang trabaho ko. Since I'm part of the committee, I should be involved there and ayoko pong bigyan sila ng impression na naman na medyo [sic] nagsu-surrender ako," she said.
She is hopeful her colleagues in the Senate and especially in the Committee, "will conduct themselves in a professional manner," question the witnesses accordingly, and not add to her plight and make her "uncomfortable."