Lawmakers feast on De Lima-Dayan love affair

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Was it eternal love? At what point did it fall apart?

Lawmakers took turns on Thursday, November 24, in prying into the affair of Senator Leila de Lima and former aide and ex-boyfriend Ronnie Dayan, who testified against her before the House committee on justice two days after he was arrested in La Union.

Dayan was interpellated by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro, and Kabayan Representative Harry Roque, among others, about details of his alleged meetings with suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

Fariñas then zeroed in on the state of Dayan's affair with the senator in 2014. "'Yung mga panahon na 'yan, malakas pa ang pag-iibigan 'nyo ni Secretary [De Lima] or humina na?" asked Fariñas. (During that period, was your love with Secretary De Lima still strong or waning?)

"Medyo signal 1 na lang po, sir. Mahina-hina na po," said Dayan, eliciting laughter from the House committee members. (It was at signal number 1, sir. It was weak already.)

A smiling Fariñas continued: "Ano bang pinakamataas na signal na inabot 'nyo? Ano 'yung pinakasukdulan, pinakamataas na signal na inabot 'nyo?" (What was the highest signal that your relationship reached?)

Dayan replied: "Umabot din po siguro ng signal number 5, sir (Perhaps it reached signal number 5, sir)," triggering another round of laughter in the room packed with mostly male lawmakers, 5 female representatives, police officials, and members of the media.

Law over love

Jumping off from Fariñas' questions, Castro asked if the love that Dayan and De Lima shared when their relationship was its peak was "pure and honest."

"Ang sinasabi mo na 'di sinuklian ni Senador De Lima ang wagas mong pag-ibig sa kanya ay itong mga huli na na mga pagkakataon na ang iyong pagmamahalan ay nasa intensity 1 na lang. Subalit noong ang inyong pagmamahalan ay nasa intensity 5, masasabi mo ba wagas, tapat, at dalisay din ang kanyang pagmamahal sa 'yo?" asked Castro.

(You're saying that Senator de Lima did not return your eternal love for her when your relationship was at intensity 1. But when it was at intensity 5, can you say that her love for you was pure and honest?)

Dayan paused for a few seconds before answering: "Wagas din po, sir. Nararamdaman ko rin po." (It was pure, sir. I felt that, too).

Castro then asked if that love would stop Dayan from telling the truth during the hearing and forsake De Lima. "Dahil sa damdamin na 'yan ni Secretary De Lima na iyong damdamin rin na hindi mo maaring ipagkanulo si Secretary De Lima sa pagsasabi ng hindi katotohanan sa pagdinig na ito?" said Castro

(Because of these feelings between you and Secretary De Lima, you cannot forsake her and tell the truth during this hearing?)

"Alang-alang po sa batas sir, puwede ko siyang ipagkanulo. Alang-alang po sa katotohanan," replied Dayan. (For the law, sir, I can forsake her. For the sake of the truth.)

The questions were criticized by some netizens, who took lawmakers to task for prying into the affair of De Lima and Dayan. (READ: Netizens on Dayan, De Lima questions: 'Papa Jack,' 'crossing the line')

Mad over Duterte

In the daylong saga, Dayan also recalled his former boss getting upset when she saw him with campaign materials for then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte at the height of the election campaign.

Compostela Valley 2nd District Representative Ruwel Gonzaga asked Dayan if he helped De Lima campaign for senator in the May 2016 elections.

Dayan, who said he served as De Lima’s bagman for her transactions with suspected Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, said he helped spread De Lima’s posters around Pangasinan, where he lives. He was paid P300 a day for this, he said.

But he admitted he also rooted for Duterte in the presidential race. De Lima ran under the Liberal Party, whose standard-bearer was former interior and local government secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Dayan recalled that during the last time he went to Manila to get campaign operations money from De Lima, she noticed that he was wearing Duterte ballers on his arm and ankle. 

“‘Yung huling hingi ko po, nung pumunta ako sa kanya sa Maynila, may suot ako [na baller] ni presidente dito atsaka dito sa paa. Nung nakita niya, pak! Ginanon niya ko. Parang pinalo niya ko dito,” said Dayan, who gestured before lawmakers how he was slapped on the right cheek by De Lima.

(The last time I went to her in Manila, I was wearing ballers of the President on my arm and foot. She saw it and pak! She hit me here.)

Ang sabi kasi nakita kasi ‘yung baller, ‘Bakit suot-suot mo ‘yan?’ [Sabi ko], ‘Eh ito ang presidente ko eh! Idol namin sa Pangasinan,’” said Dayan. (She saw the baller and asked, ‘Why are you wearing that?’ I said, ‘He is my president. He is our idol in Pangasinan.’)

According to him, this was when De Lima called Duterte as “crazy.”

Sabi ni ma’am, sir, ‘Maga-idol ka rin lang, sira-ulo pa!’ Ang sagot ko naman po, sir, ‘Walang basagan ng trip,’” replied Dayan, causing laughter among the audience. (Ma’am said, ‘Of all idols, you pick the crazy one!’ My answer was, ‘That’s none of your business.’)

Gonzaga asked how De Lima replied to that. “Punyeta ka," Dayan said.

Dayan said that he also helped put up Duterte campaign paraphernalia made out of sacks.

Sa Pangasinan po kasi, may mga sako na kulay puti po na plain lang. Bibili kami ng isang quart ng pintura tapos isusulat lang naman namin, ‘Vote Duterte for president.’ Tapos sa taas, ‘yung kay ma’am tapos si presidente sa baba,” said Dayan. (In Pangasinan, we used plain white sacks. We would buy a quart of paint then we put ‘Vote Duterte for president.’ We placed ma’am’s poster on top of the president’s.)

7 years

In his signed affidavit, Dayan, married, confessed that he had a 7-year relationship with De Lima, starting in 2007, when she was running her own law firm, and ending in 2015, when she asked him to resign as her bodyguard and driver at the justice department.

Dayan said he asked his daughter Hannah Mae to request for financial help from De Lima since he was in hiding, but the embattled senator did not send any help. (READ: De Lima advised me to hide, skip House probe)

De Lima, whose marriage had been annulled, earlier admitted her relationship with the married Dayan in an exclusive television interview, saying it was part of her "frailties as a woman." (READ: De Lima admits past relationship with driver bodyguard)

Kabayan Representative Roque asked Dayan if he ever took advantage of De Lima.

"Hindi…Basta umibig lang po ako, sir. Inibig lang din niya ko," Dayan said. (No… I just fell in love, sir. She also fell in love with me.)

The exchange again elicited laughter from the crowd, prompting House justice committee chairperson Reynaldo Umali to tell his colleagues to "observe proper decorum."

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said De Lima and Dayan have violated the Revised Penal Code's provisions against concubinage and immorality. 

Aguirre also said De Lima committed "obstruction of justice" by preventing Dayan from appearing during the October 6 hearing. 

"I believe the law violated by Secretary De Lima is the Rules of Court in contempt. It is an obstruction of justice on the part of the senator. And in addition to the answer I made about concubinage, Secretary De Lima is also guilty under Section 27 of Rule 138 of immorality under the Rules of Court and he could be disbarred for immorality," said Aguirre. 

Valid questions

Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, an ally of the Duterte administration, said her colleagues' questions were necessary to establish De Lima's links in the drug trade.

"Well, I think I can understand my colleagues. 'Yung (The) line of questioning naman diyan (there) in trying to establish the closeness between Ronnie Dayan and Senator De Lima... hindi lang (not just) personal,it would reflect on her official responsibility or capacity," said Garcia.

The Cebu 3rd District representative said the committee could not control the reaction of the audience. 

"But I think for each and every one for us as congressmen, it was incumbent upon us as congressmen kung paano mag-react (how we reacted). And I think 'pag nakita mo naman (if you saw us earlier), for many of us, we maintained proper decorum," said Garcia. 

For Nueva Ecija 2nd District Representative Micaela Violago, dwelling on Dayan and De Lima's relationship was unnecessary as the details are private. 

"As a woman, ayokong ma-ano 'yung love affair, 'yung naging ano ko, into a public affair, 'di ba? Kasi siyempre naman parang nakaka-ano sa pagiging babae. Siyempre ako naawa ako kay Senator Leila de Lima dahil nangyayari 'to sa kanya, which is kahit nagkaroon siya ng love affair, it's a private thing na hindi na dapat i-discuss in public," said Violago.

(As a woman, I don't want my love affair to be publicized, right? Because it affects my being a woman. I pity Senator Leila de Lima because this is happening to her. She had a love affair and it's a private thing that should not be discussed in public.) – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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