JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday said the admission by Senator Leila De Lima that she had a romantic affair with her former driver will further bolster their case against the lawmaker.
Aguirre said De Lima’s admission on GMA News TV’s “Bawal ang Pasaway with Mareng Winnie” on Monday night could even be presented as evidence once the cases filed against her reach the court.
“Definitely magagamit na evidence yan. As a matter of fact, I instructed the NBI to get a copy of the footage of that interview already para magamit as evidence,” Aguirre said when sought for comment on the issue.
Aguirre said De Lima’s admission disproved her repeated statements that he is manufacturing evidence against her to malign her reputation and pin her down on the criminal charges filed in connection with her alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.
He added that De Lima’s admission also corroborated the testimony of several witnesses they presented in the House’ inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary that De Lima has a romantic relationship with Ronnie Dayan.
“It proves na hindi manufactured ang sinabi nating relasyon nila katulad ng pinaratang nya sa akin. Na-corroborate rin nito ang statement ng witnesses at na-establish ang link kay Dayan,” Aguirre said.
The DoJ chief also explained that De Lima’s admission raised the probability that Dayan was indeed collecting drug money from Bilibid inmates, which was attested to by several of the DoJ witnesses that appeared in the House’ probe.
Aguirre said the admission could even strengthen the disbarment case against De Lima by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam and ormer National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala for gross immorality for her relationship with Dayan.
Resign, De Lima urged
De Lima should resign, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said stressing that her admission of her romantic links with her bodyguard driver validates President Rodrigo Duterte’s accusations that “she committed unlawful and immoral acts and opens her up to a criminal offense of adultery since her lover is a married man.”
Panelo also said that De Lima should save herself from further embarrassment by resigning adding she only has herself to blame for her predicament and sorry situation.
De Lima said of her falling in love with Dayan was part of her “frailties as a woman.”
“We became so close. That’s it. I trusted him. Siyempre, naano po ang loob ko,” she said.
De Lima said, her relationship with Dayan lasted for a “few years” and that the latter had long been separated from his wife. She said she broke up with him before she ran for senator.
De Lima has reiterated that her record and reputation as a public servant had remained “untarnished” until the Duterte administration dragged her into the alleged proliferation of drug trafficking at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
De Lima made the remark amid the reported plan of the DoJ to pursue the disbarment case filed against her by the VACC and some individuals for alleged “gross immorality” for having an affair with her then driver-bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan.
VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez, former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, and jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam filed the disbarment case against De Lima before the Supreme Court last October 28.
Asked to comment on the supposed plan of the DoJ to pursue the disbarment case against her based on her admission, De Lima said: “Eto lang masasabi ko ayaw ko sanang sagutin ‘yan because I really don’t feel right engaging publicly about private matters.”
“My record as a public official first as CHR (Commission on Human Rights) chair and next as Secretary of Justice speaks for itself. And my record and reputation has been untarnished until now because of all these unjust and unfair false allegations, fabricated lies against my alleged involvement in the drug trade,” she said.
With EMontano, Bernadette E. Tamayo