Sex, lies, but no tape in House hearing

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No sex tape purportedly featuring Sen. Leila de Lima was shown at the resumption of the House inquiry into clandestine drug trade at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Thursday, Oct. 6, but lawmakers heard testimony with titillating details of the supposed love life of the former justice secretary.

The House justice committee resumed its inquiry into drug trafficking inside NBP, which allegedly flourished during the term of De Lima as justice secretary.

The panel chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali allowed 40-year-old Joenel Sanchez, a former bodyguard of De Lima and member of the Presidential Security Group, to talk about what he claimed to be an “extraordinary relationship” between De Lima and her former driver, Ronnie Dayan.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II presented Sanchez as a witness to establish the link between De Lima and Dayan, who allegedly collected payoffs from drug lords and gang leaders at NBP on behalf of his boss.

In the affidavit he read out during his testimony, Sanchez said he was assigned to De Lima’s security detail from July 2010 to May 2015.


‘Obvious sweetness’

As De Lima’s bodyguard, Sanchez said he observed her closeness to Dayan, who was head of all the security aides assigned to the then justice secretary.

“Later I confirmed their relationship because Ronnie Dayan was sleeping in SOJ (Secretary of Justice) De Lima’s house,” he said.

“[On] out-of-town trips, they would stay in one room. We would also often go to SOJ De Lima’s house in Bicol, and their sweetness was obvious,” he said.

On one trip, he said he saw the two feeding each other boiled bananas.

Sanchez said De Lima was also generous to Dayan, buying him his favorite brandy and cigarettes whenever they went  shopping for groceries, as well as barong, shoes and other personal things.

“It came to a point when Dayan directly boasted of his relationship with SOJ De Lima,” he said.

Sanchez claimed that in 2012 De Lima’s driver, whom he identified only as “Bantam,” showed him Dayan’s mobile phone and played two private videos showing De Lima, one with her alone and another with Dayan.

“I felt awkward watching so I stopped watching,” he said.


Video showing blocked

Last week, Aguirre and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Mr. Duterte’s right-hand man in the House, spoke about playing the purported sex video at the inquiry.

But they backed down after several senators, women’s groups, social media activists and human rights advocates accused the House of misogyny and pointed out laws that they would violate if they went ahead with the showing of the video.

De Lima incurred the ire of Mr. Duterte by investigating in 2009, as head of the Commission on Human Rights, his links to extrajudicial killings in Davao when he was still the mayor of the city and by defying, as senator, his warning to Congress not to investigate his war on drugs.

De Lima, as chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, opened an inquiry into thousands of deaths in Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs last month.

But Mr. Duterte’s allies in the Senate stripped her of the chairmanship of the committee after she presented as witness a confessed hit man who claimed Mr. Duterte ordered the Davao killings.


Trying to silence her

De Lima has refused to appear at the House hearing, questioning the credibility of the witnesses and claiming the probe is nothing more than a counterattack by Mr. Duterte’s allies.

Speaking at a human rights forum at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila yesterday, De Lima lashed out at Mr. Duterte and his allies who, she said, were trying to silence her.

She vowed to press ahead, saying, “I do not want to give them the pleasure of seeing me beaten.”

Engelberto Durano, an inmate at NBP, also testified during the House hearing yesterday, claiming he raised P1.5 million for De Lima’s

senatorial campaign last year and handed the money to her on orders from Jeffrey Diaz alias Jaguar, a drug lord who was killed by police in Las Piñas City on June 17.

Durano, a former policeman, said he placed the money in a shoebox that he had wrapped as a gift and handed it to De Lima at the office of Bilibid Channel 3, which served as the “office” of Jaybee Sebastian, a gang leader who allegedly raised money for De Lima’s senatorial run.

Sebastian was present at that meeting, he said.

Durano also claimed he had knowledge of drug transactions worth P27.3 million between Dayan and Diaz.

Another NBP inmate, former police officer Nonilo Arile, 56, also testified at the inquiry, describing Sebastian as a dirty player who monopolized the drug trade in the prison after 19 other convicted drug lords were transferred to the NBI detention center in December 2014.

Arile, who claimed he was a government asset at NBP, read out a report he had written about the drug trade inside the prison, naming the traders

as Ben Marcelo, Sam Li Chua, Peter Co, Willy Yang, Robert Lee, Willy Ang, Vicente Sy, Jackson Lee, one “Angse” and one “Tom.”

He also named 14 prison guards as protectors of or couriers for the drug traders in NBP.

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