MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima allegedly ordered Ronnie Dayan not to honor the House of Representatives’ subpoena to appear before its inquiry into the drug trade at the National Bilibid Prison saying they would only be subjected to humiliation.
This was the disclosure of Dayan, De Lima’s former driver-bodyguard with whom she has acknowledged having had an affair, in his testimony before the committee on justice Thursday, two days after he was arrested in La Union on a warrant of arrested issued by the panel for his earlier refusal to appear before its probe.
The inquiry was mounted after President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been at odds with De Lima since she began investigating extrajudicial killings attributed to him when he was mayor of Davao City and she was chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights, publicly accused the senator of receiving millions of pesos from convicted drug lords at the NBP to fund her election campaign soon after they assumed office after the May 9 polls.
Reading from his four-page affidavit, Dayan claimed he was “eager” to attend the House inquiry when a sibling informed him on October 1 that a congressional subpoena had arrived for him.
He said he asked his daughter, Hannah Mae, to text De Lima to inform her “a-attend ako (I am attending)” and to get her opinion.
He said De Lima told his daughter “Pakisabi sa kanya magtago lang siya … magtago lang muna siya. Kagagawan niyan nila Speaker Alvarez at dikta ni Digong. Pagpipistahan lang … pagpipistahan lang siya at kaming dalawa kapag nag-appear siya sa hearing (Tell him to hide … hide for now. That’s the work of Speaker Alvarez and dictated by Duterte. They will only feast on him, on the two of us, if he appears at the hearing).”
This was confirmed by Hannah Mae, who read the exchange of messages with De Lima, who she called “Tita Lei,” stored in her mobile phone on the request of Majority Leader Rodlfo Farinas. Hannah Mae appeared with her face covered to, the lawmakers said, protect her privacy.
The screen of Hannah Mae Dayan’s phone showing her text exchange with Senator Leila de Lima. (photo by JV Arcena, News5)
She also said she texted De Lima asking if her father would not be arrested if he did not attend and got the response: “‘Di ba nagtatago naman siya (Isn’t he hiding anyway)?”
At this time, Hannah Mae said, she no longer knew where Dayan was staying.
Dayan and his daughter’s revelation prompted Farinas to suggest that De Lima might be liable for contempt for obstruction of justice.