Congress should summon De Lima’s other alleged lovers

ONE of the most disgusting revelations made by Senator Leila de Lima’s lover, her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, in the explosive hearing yesterday by the House of Representatives’ committee on justice was that the former justice secretary cheated on him, and had two other lovers, both of whom were also her security men.

It was because of these other relationships of De Lima, Dayan claimed, that their seven-year torrid affair cooled off and eventually ended in 2015. Dayan claimed that De Lima’s new lover was one Warren Cristobal, a motorcycle-riding security escort assigned to her by the Metro Manila Development Authority. This was actually the same “Warren” that President Rodrigo Duterte himself disclosed last August as the senator’s other lover.

While Dayan didn’t directly name him, the other security man who allegedly also become De Lima’s lover was Joenel Sanchez, a soldier assigned to her by the Presidential Security Group during the previous Aquino administration, according to the prison gang leader and convict Jaybee Sebastian’s testimony last month.

Sebastian even claimed that he saw the two holding hands during a visit to the Bilibid National Penitentiary and that De Lima supposedly called her security aide “sweetie.”

 DE LIMA’S LOVERS: Left, Dayan confirmed; middle, PSG soldier Joenel Sanchez, and right, MMDA security escort Warren Cristobal doing the justice secretary’s “ice bucket challenge.”
DE LIMA’S LOVERS: Left, Dayan confirmed; middle, PSG soldier Joenel Sanchez, and right, MMDA security escort Warren Cristobal doing the justice secretary’s “ice bucket challenge.”

Dayan had indirectly confirmed Sanchez as De Lima’s lover when he claimed that he confronted De Lima for cheating on him, and in anger slapped the justice secretary after he blurted out “Uubusin mo yata kaming mga security mo a.” (A non-literal translation: “Looks like you’ll make all of us your security men your lovers.”)
I am raising this point not for any salacious, tabloidish motive, but to point out that De Lima most probably got money from other drug lords in exchange for her protection, and not only from Kerwin Espinosa.

The other drug lords that have inflicted so much damage to our nation could be uncovered by Congress’ grilling the two other security men, who allegedly became De Lima’s lovers after Dayan.

It is illogical, even impossible, that De Lima extracted money only from Espinosa, who Dayan claimed under oath gave De Lima P8 million in 2014.

I suspect that Dayan fingered only Espinosa, because after all, the drug lord himself had already confessed to being such, either in fear of being liquidated like his father or to avenge him, and had already named him as De Lima’s bagman. He probably was also De Lima’s bagman or collector of her bribe money from other drug lords, not only from Espinosa.

But why would he volunteer that kind of information and finger other drug lords, if nobody else had done so? Why would he increase the number of criminals who want him dead?

When De Lima’s affair with Dayan ended sometime in 2015, according to the security man, who acted as her bagman? It would have been her success in getting her former lover to be her bagman, with Dayan being mum about it, which De Lima logically used as her template for her succeeding collectors.

She most probably thought that a lover could be trusted, because of their sexual and romantic entanglement, to be her bagman. In her mind, perhaps De Lima saw herself as a beautiful alpha-female with whom men—especially those from the lower classes—are putty in her hands, whose emotions she can manipulate that she could trust them to be her collector of dirty money.

Dayan’s replacement as bagman after their falling-out would have been logically either or both of her new lovers cum security men—Joenel Sanchez and Warren Cristobal.

This could be the explanation for the seeming contradiction in the testimonies of Dayan and Espinosa.

Dayan testified that he got the money for De Lima from Espinosa mostly in 2014. Espinosa however testified that he gave the money through “Dayan” to De Lima in 2015, which the justice secretary said she needed for her senatorial election campaign. Dayan said this could not have happened as he and De Lima ended their relationship by 2015, and had already resigned from the justice department.

The explanation would be that while Espinosa did give money for De Lima, through Dayan in 2014, he also gave her funds for her electoral campaign in 2015 through another bagman, who would have been logically Dayan’s replacement not only as collector but as lover. Either Espinosa couldn’t distinguish one bagman from another, a burly dark-skinned man from another. Or maybe he concluded, why would he risk implicating a PSG man nobody has actually accused of being a bagman, another gunman that might go after him in revenge?

Senate has a duty

With all the allegations on De Lima’s immorality, her protection of illegal drug lords, and her corruption in accepting bribe money, the Senate is duty bound to investigate these allegations.

The allegation alone that she told Ronnie Dayan, her former driver-security and lover, to defy a subpoena issued by Congress for him to appear in a hearing is ground enough for her removal, as this constitutes obstructing a legal order from no less than the Congress.

That there isn’t a clear procedure for this is no excuse for not doing anything to penalize a senator who has disgraced the office of the justice secretary and the Senate. A senator can be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the chamber’s members.

This Senate will be a disgrace to our rule of law and our democracy if it doesn’t move to investigate the mounting evidence of crime by one of its members.

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