SENATOR Leila de Lima and suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa had a “face off” yesterday at the Senate investigation into the drug trade in the country but the former declined, for being “futile” according to her, to confront him about his claim that she allegedly received drug money from him amounting to P8 million in three tranches.
De Lima instead gave Espinosa this final message: “To Mr. Espinosa, May God forgive you for all your sins and may God forgive you for all the lies (you gave) about me and I forgive you.”
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, has asked fellow senators to allow De Lima to be the first one to question Espinosa. Instead, she said: “I have no intention but I feel it is pointless, useless, futile, for me to do so.”
“It’s a nice script at least on the portion of the testimony about me is concerned. But let me say that I categorically, firmly, and absolutely deny having known Mr. Kerwin Espinosa. I do not remember any instance or occasion of having met him,” said De Lima.
De Lima’s former driver-lover, Ronnie Dayan, had confirmed after his arrest Monday that he served as the former’s “bagman” when she was still justice secretary.
Espinosa said that he gave money to De Lima, through Dayan, in Burnham Park in Baguio City last February.
But De Lima said: “I categorically, firmly, and absolutely deny having received any money, any cash from this Mr. Kerwin either directly or indirectly to anyone else on any occasion in any time whether that money is supposed for either protection or fundraising for campaign expenses.”
“Alam po ‘yan ni Kerwin Espinosa on his testimony about me having received money, having talked to him, anywhere whether Burnham are total fabrication,” she said.
De Lima also deplored Dayan’s “damaging” statement against her. “It appears that Ronnie Dayan has been successfully turned into another one of my accusers by this Administration.”
She insinuated that Espinosa could had been “under duress” when he executed his testimony against her. “So it is pointless to question on those points and I also feel it will not be appropriate for me to do so because there will be questions on my interests kaya hindi po ako magtatanong sa kanya. I want to give colleagues a free hand in questioning Mr. Espinosa.”
Lacson then asked Espinosa whether he was forced to implicate De Lima. “Ikaw ba ay tinakot, pinangakuan? To which Espinosa said: “Wala po, senator.”
In a statement released to media, De Lima said: “I welcome this as an opportunity to clear my name as soon as all these fiction stories of the underworld are weaved into a complete but grotesque tapestry and finally filed before a court of law where I can properly defend myself, hopefully this time without the fanfare and the drama of my persecution before the media.”
“I have consistently challenged my accusers to bring their cases against me before the courts because I was always prepared to prove my innocence before the proper forum. And even as they portrayed Ronnie Dayan as the missing link to their drug conspiracies, his arrest and so-called admissions yesterday present an opportunity for me to put this issue to a close,” she said.
“I still hope that the authorities, in the exercise of their duties, act within the bounds of the law, without abusing their powers and using force and intimidation on purported witnesses, including Ronnie Dayan,” said De Lima.
She added: “May justice and truth prevail today and the days to come, as we sort out the truth from the lies that are easily weaved into this tall-tale narrative of a human rights and justice advocate turned drug queen.”