SAN JUAN, La Union: Ronnie Palisoc-Dayan, former lover and bodyguard of Sen. Leila de Lima, was finally captured in a remote barangay (village) in La Union on Tuesday, cornered by police operatives in a rice field after weeks in hiding.
Dayan had been the subject of a manhunt after failing to appear before an inquiry of the House of Representatives, which linked him and de Lima to the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
In August, President Rodrigo Duterte himself accused de Lima, former Justice secretary in the previous administration, of collecting drug money to finance her senatorial campaign, with Dayan as her bagman.
Pangasinan and La Union police said they traced Dayan to a ricefield at Barangay San Felipe in San Juan, La Union at about 11:30 a.m. upon receiving tips from concerned citizens and even Dayan’s family.
Dayan, who had lost weight, was taken to the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame in the afternoon. He wore a helmet and a bulletproof vest, but had no handcuffs.
In a news conference, PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa presented Dayan and denied reports the former
driver-bodyguard surrendered and was not captured.
Dayan was mostly mum but confirmed he was captured by police in a chase at the rice field in Barangay San Felipe.
He also confirmed that he had a romantic relationship with de Lima. “Seven years,” Dayan said, flashing seven fingers before the cameras.
De Lima herself admitted to the affair in a television interview last week, attributing it to the “frailties of a woman.” She has repeatedly denied any involvement in the drug trade.
Alone in the field
Dayan was taking a rest in the rice field alone when he was cornered by police operatives. He had been spotted by a farmer who reported his presence to village officials and later to the police station of San Juan town.
Three days before his arrest, Dayan was seen walking alone at around 7 a.m., reportedly begging for help and food from a farmer who met him on the road. Dayan wore a slipper, a cap and a jacket.
Dayan told the farmer he was tired of walking and was hungry. He introduced himself as Ronnie Dayan.
Dayan, the farmer said, told him he wanted to surrender to the police and face the House of Representatives, which had issued a warrant of arrest after his failure to honor a summons.
Detention at House
De la Rosa said Dayan would be turned over to the House sergeant at arms.
On Tuesday, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte and Deputy Speaker Frednil Castro of Capiz announced that they would reopen a probe into the Bilibid drug trade.
The Palace welcomed the arrest of Dayan.
“We hope that Mr. Dayan’s arrest would lead to the uncovering of truth in the proliferation of drugs in Bilibid and for the guilty to be punished. We owe this to the future generation of Filipinos to have a drug-free society,” said Palace deputy spokeswoman Ana Banaag said.