MANILA, November 16, 2016 (PNA) — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II today said the Department of Justice (DOJ) does not need the testimonies of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and Senator Leila de Lima’s driver/bodyguard Ronnie Dayan to implicate the lawmaker for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.
“Actually, even without Dayan’s testimony, even without Kerwin’s testimony, we already have more than sufficient testimonial evidence to implicate her. I think it is very strong, especially now that Senator de Lima admitted her illicit relationship with Ronnie Dayan,” Aguirre said at a press briefing in Malacañang.
However, Aguirre said considering that the government is building an airtight case against the former Justice secretary, every single additional evidence would be welcomed.
“We welcome everybody willing to help government punish high ranking government officials involved in the illegal drug trade. That is why we are offering the protection of the Witness Protection Program (WPP) to Espinosa and even to Dayan, as long as they are cooperative and will be qualified to be admitted under our WPP,” he said.
Aguirre said he had already written to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronaldo dela Rosa that the DOJ, through the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), is willing to assist the PNP in protecting and investigating Espinosa in the event that the latter is repatriated in the country from the United Arab Emirates.
Dela Rosa had earlier said Espinosa is set to arrive in the country on Friday after a police team fetched him from the Wadha Jail in Abu Dhabi.
Kerwin, the alleged top drug lord in Eastern Visayas, was arrested in Abu Dhabi last October 17 by local police officials who had been tipped off by overseas Filipino workers.
According to Aguirre, the suspected drug lord expressed his intention to enter the WPP because of fears for his life and his family after being informed of the killing of his father, Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., in a Leyte Jail last November 5.
The younger Espinosa also expressed his willingness to execute a sworn affidavit and reveal everything he knows about the illegal drug operation in the Philippines.
Dayan, for his part, is considered at large with a P1-million bounty for his arrest.
Dayan went into hiding after the House of Representatives issued an arrest warrant against him for failure to attend congressional hearings on the New Bilibid Prison drug operations.
Aguirre said the NBI conducted a manhunt for Dayan but was not successful.
“We were told that Ronnie Dayan is protected by some high public officials in his home province of Pangasinan and other northern provinces, up to Baguio. But I hope that with the P1-million reward, we will get him,” he said.
Aguirre denied the DOJ’s involvement in raising the reward money, saying it was from“community efforts to help in the administration of justice.”
Aguirre said a special five-man DOJ panel has already been tasked to consolidate the cases filed against de Lima and conduct the preliminary investigation.
“As I’ve said, even without the testimonies of Espinosa and Dayan, we have a strong case against de Lima. Present testimonial evidence plus the admission of Senator de Lima are more than sufficient to find probable cause,” he said.
“After we are finished with our findings, the ball will then be in the court of the Ombudsman,” Aguirre said. (Cielito M. Reganit/PNA)