‘Spare him please’
ADMITTING that she and her former driver-bodyguard were close, Senator Leila De Lima on Saturday appealed that he be spared from attacks and that he should not be included in her quarrel with President Rodrigo Duterte.
She said that Ronnie Palisoc Dayan is now hiding for his life.
“Do not touch him,” the senator pleaded to authorities after receiving reports that some people are tracking down Dayan.
The lawmaker made the plea in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent accusation that she has been maintaining an illicit relationship with her former employee.
“His life is in danger. He sent me an S.O.S. He is extremely fearful for his life,” De Lima said in a news forum in Quezon City.
The senator said she and Dayan became close when he entered her employ while she was the Secretary of the Department of Justice.
‘We got close, but just how close I will no longer touch on that because it’s too personal,” she told reporters.
Dayan, she said, no longer works for her because he resigned in 2015. However, she admitted that she had constant communication with him.
“I haven’t talked to him for a while now although someone told me last night that he is in danger,” she added.
She said Dayan went into hiding after being warned that some civilians and police personnel are hunting him down, threatening to kill or kidnap him to serve as state witness against De Lima.
Dayan has been seeking refuge in the homes of some relatives and friends, the senator said.
Duterte had slammed De Lima for her alleged immoral relationship with Dayan, who is married and has children. The President said the senator built a house for her former driver who reportedly reaped from drug profits.
But de Lima on Saturday maintained that she had nothing to do with the drug trade and vowed to resign if the President will be able to present evidence that she has been protecting drug dealers.
“If you persist in your accusations that I profited from drugs because I am a coddler or protector (of drug dealers), or that I received drug money in the form of campaign funds or whatever, you will be embarrassed and I don’t want that to happen to you,” the senator told Duterte.
De Lima bared attempts of some people to convince personnel at the New Bilibid Prison to testify against her.
“There are some who are going around Bilibid [to]access certain convicts to point [to]me as coddler of illegal drug syndicates. But there are no takers,” she said.
Officials at the Department of Justice who are perceived to be close to her are also being persuaded to talk against her, the senator claimed.
The senator speculated that she drew Duterte’s ire when she, as former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, led probes on the alleged links of then Mayor Duterte to the Davao Death Squad.
She admitted that the CHR failed to file cases against Duterte or his aides for lack of evidence.
“[Because] we don’t have enough evidence against them. There [was]no one to execute a sworn affidavit to prove the existence of the death squad,” De Lima said.
Meanwhile, Gabriela party-list denounced the President’s sexist remarks against de Lima.
“Resorting to sexist attack is wrong and unacceptable. Personal attacks muddle the investigation and steer people further away from truth and justice,” Gabriela, an ally of Duterte, said in a statement.
De Lima has two sons from an annulled marriage.
“We urge President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Leila De Lima to both stick to facts in both the investigations on extrajudicial killings and the probe on drug trafficking and coddling,” Gabriela said. “It is only then that the investigations will truly serve the interests of the public victimized by the drug trade and the extrajudicial killings that has marred the war on drugs.”
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI