By Genalyn D. Kabiling
The Duterte administration believes it has built a strong case against Senator Leila de Lima for allegedly benefiting from illegal drug operations even without the testimonies of her former driver Ronnie Dayan and a suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said they have gathered “sufficient” testimonial evidence against De Lima but will still welcome any additional information from the two possible witnesses.
Espinosa, son of slain Albuera town mayor Ronald Espinosa arrested in Abu Dhabi will be repatriated for the country on Thursday while Dayan, the alleged bagman of De Lima, is still being hunted down by authorities.
“Even without Ronnie Dayan, even without Kerwin Espinosa, I think it is very strong especially now that Senator De Lima admitted her relationship — her illicit relationship with Ronnie Dayan. Malaki ang pinagbago ‘non,” Aguirre said in a Palace press briefing.
“But considering that we are strengthening the case, parang ‘yung sinasabi ko noon that we would want to file an airtight case, every single additional evidence, we welcome it,” he added.
President Duterte earlier accused De Lima of allowing the proliferation of illegal drug operations inside the National Bilibid Prison when she was secretary of the Department of Justice. She supposedly accepted money from convicted drug traffickers through Dayan. De Lima has denied the charges.
Aguirre affirmed the government is willing to tap Dayan and Espinosa as possible witnesses to hold accountable public officials involved in the illegal drug trade.
He noted that Dayan, the former lover of De Lima, is supposedly being protected by some public officials in northern Luzon provinces such as Pangasinan and Baguio. A P1-million reward has been offered by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) for information leading to the arrest of Dayan.