SENATOR Leila De Lima and her former driver and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan may be charged with concubinage for having an illicit affair that lasted for seven years.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said both De Lima and Dayan—who both admitted having the affair, would have violated the Revised Penal Code provision on concubinage.
Aguirre also said De Lima could also be held liable for contempt and obstruction of justice for advising Dayan to go into hiding to evade the congressional inquiry where he was invited as a resource person.
“It’s the Revised Penal Code on concubinage, on the part of Dayan and of course on the part of De Lima,” Aguirre told before lawmakers in response to queries from Compostela Valley Rep. Ruwel Gonzaga.
He also said De Lima, a lawyer, is also guilty of immorality under the Rules of Court and could be disbarred.
De Lima earlier admitted on national television that she had a romantic relationship with her driver. She said Dayan was already separated from his wife before their affair.
Dayan later said their affair lasted seven years.
Aguirre said De Lima may have violated the rules of court on contempt when she instructed Dayan’s daughter, Hannah Mae, to tell her father to stay away from the committee hearings.
Aguirre said this constituted obstruction of justice on De Lima’s part.
Hannah Mae, who was also present during the congressional hearing Thursday, showed her phone containing messages she supposedly sent to a certain “TL,” which she said referred to “Tita Lei.”
Hannah Mae text message read: “Hi Tita. Good pm po. Mi pinapatanong po si pa…. Baket daw po mi dumating subpwena sa kanya at ano daw po gagawin nia? [Hello auntie. Dad is asking why there is a subpoena for him and what should he do?]”
De Lima replied: “Pakisabi sa kanya magtago lang muna sya. Kagagawan yan nila Speaker Alvarez at dikta ni Digong. Pagpipiyestahan lang sya at kaming dalawa kapag mag-appear sya sa hearing na yan. [Please tell him to go into hiding. This is the work of Speaker Alvarez at the behest of President Duterte. They will just feast on the both of us if you appear at the hearing.]”
Hannah Mae then asked the senator: “Hindi naman po ba sya huhulihin kapag hindi siya pumunta? [Won’t they arrest him if he doesn’t go?]”
De Lima replied: “Di ba nagtatago naman siya? (Isn’t he in hiding?)”
Aguirre said De Lima cannot invoke her right to privacy or gender sensitivity in cases of public interest.
“The right to privacy or the right to gender sensitivity are mere private rights but the violation of our criminal laws are public offenses and it prevails over private rights,” Aguirre said.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday branded De Lima as “a serial liar” after watching Senate hearings in which suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa testified that he gave drug payoffs to De Lima, who was participating in the proceedings.
“I admire Senator De Lima, she has mastered the art of lying. I think she is really a serial liar,” Alvarez said in a TV interview.
Alvarez noted that while there were conflicting testimonies of witnesses in the investigation of the House committee on justice on the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison, they have a common thread pointing to De Lima.
“All people who had gotten involved in the illegal drug trade have said she was indeed involved, that they delivered drug money to her. But she has kept denying it,” Alvarez said.
He said that the testimony of Espinosa before the Senate and the initial statements of De Lima’s ex-driver, bodyguard and lover Dayan corroborate each other.
Alvarez said he expects that the testimony Dayan gave to the justice panel will tie the loose ends in the testimonies of previous witnesses and establish the fact of De Lima’s involvement in the illegal drug trade in the NBP.
He noted that Dayan has admitted delivering drug money to De Lima. Dayan was arrested by police on the strength of a warrant issued against him by the House of Representatives after he failed to attend the Justice committee NBP probe despite a summons. He was turned over to the custody of the House Wednesday night.
Amid the denials by the senator, Alvarez is confident that the public is intelligent enough to discern who is telling the truth or lying.
De Lima lashed back at Alvarez, calling him narrow-minded, rude and disrespectful.
She said his calling her a serial liar showed he was narrow-minded and had already prejudged the case against her.
She also dismissed his claim that the House investigation was being done in aid of legislation.
Even from the start, she said, Alvarez had sought to nail her on illegal drugs charges based on the lies being told against her.
Recalling that it was also Alvarez who wanted to show a sex video allegedly of her and Dayan, she said the Speaker is also rude and disrespectful of women.
The senator also said Alvarez and “his beloved President Duterte are singing the same tune.”
“They have been accustomed to judge and humiliate me before the public amid their fabricated evidence,” she said.
De Lima said her accusers had nothing against her but the the testimony of drug convicts, who she said had personal motives against her and were forced to testify against her.
She said glaring inconsistencies in the statements of all the witnesses at the House inquiry spoke for itself.
“I refuse to indulge my accusers by addressing their web of lies and desperate attempts to implicate me as a corrupt public servant,” said De Lima, adding that she did not watch the entirety of her “public hanging.”
She described the House inquiry a spectacle that diverted people from more important national issues.
“But soon, I will face my detractors,” said De Lima.
As a woman, the former Justice secretary said it breaks her heart that her private life and personal relationship have become subject of the public and congressional ridicule.
“No woman, whoever or whatever she may be, whether a sitting senator or a humble secretary, deserves to be betrayed, to be treated with so much disrespect and without dignity, before the public eye, by any man she is with or had a relationship with,” she said.
“It is a shame that those I trusted fell into the trap of power, deceit, fear and intimidation that they found it necessary to lie and twist truths to save themselves,” she added.
Earlier Thursday, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque urged De Lima to resign after learning she had advised Dayan to go into hiding.
Roque said that the Senate should initiate the call for De Lima to resign to protect and preserve the integrity of Congress.
“While the House may have the power to cite the senator in contempt, we probably will not do so out of inter-parliamentary courtesy,” Roque said.
“But I hope our colleagues in the Senate realize the seriousness [of] a sitting senator preventing an appearance in a legislative investigation as part of concealing the truth,” Roque told the panel, chaired by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
If she does not step down, Roque added, the Senate must remove her to protect the integrity of Congress.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, however, rejected Roque’s call, saying the Senate has its own rules and that the ethics committee is the one tasked with investigating erring members of the chamber.
He said calls for De Lima’s ouster were “premature.”
Pimentel also bristled at a member of the House telling the Senate what to do.
“Let’s not be too excited. Let the House do what they have to do, observe due process, proper procedure and then give the Senate the official result of their findings,” he said.
He also disputed the notion that drug charges against De Lima would hurt the integrity of the Senate.
“There are 24 senators, we have our own lives, we have our own actions. Some probably beat a red light or crossed the street in a no-crossing zone. Is that the fault of the Senate?” he said.