The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed bribery complaints against former senator Leila de Lima and her former bodyguard over an alleged P8-million bribe from self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
In a ruling dated January 5 but only received by De Lima’s camp on Tuesday, the Ombudsman dismissed the direct and indirect bribery raps “for lack of probable cause.”
De Lima is accused of receiving the bribes allegedly through her former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan on four occasions: In August 2015 with P2 million at a Pasay mall parking lot; In October 2015 with P1.7 million at a Pasay restaurant; In November 2015 with P2 million at Burnham Park in Baguio; and in February 2016 with P2.3 million at a Pasay mall parking lot.
The funds were supposedly intended to finance De Lima’s 2016 senatorial bid, which the lawmaker and Dayan denied.
The former senator and Justice secretary said Dayan had resigned from the Department of Justice as early as March 2015 and had since stopped reporting to her.
Dayan was also not part of her senatorial campaign team, De Lima said, as she denied planning a meeting with Espinosa in Baguio.
In ruling there was no probable cause to charge De Lima and Dayan, the Office of the Ombudsman cited the inconsistent statements of Espinosa and witness Marcelo Adorco.
While Espinosa claimed he gave the P8 million in four tranches to Dayan and not De Lima, Adorco said Espinosa handed the entire money to De Lima when they had lunch at a Pasay restaurant.
The Office of the Ombudsman also doubted if there was a planned meeting between De Lima and Espinosa in Baguio City, as the latter claimed.
Adorco said he and Espinosa were already in Baguio when De Lima invited Espinosa for lunch at a restaurant in Pasay. Espinosa said they went to Baguio City after Dayan instructed him during a second meeting at a Pasay restaurant.
The Office of the Ombudsman ruled that what likely happened in Baguio was a chance encounter between Espinosa and De Lima, since the latter was there for her senatorial candidacy.