MANILA — The provisional coverage under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) given to Ronnie Dayan, the former driver, bodyguard and lover of former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima will start on Tuesday next week, said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday.
Aguirre said that Dayan decided to go home in Pangasinan to be with his family after he gave his testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Justice looking into the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs inside the National Bilibid Prison (NBP).
He said that Dayan promised to come back on Tuesday to give statement for his affidavit.
”Yesterday, dapat pinasok na namin siya as provisional authority sa WPP. Ang problema gusto niya muna umuwi sa kanyang family kaya yung provisional coverage niya sa WPP will only begin most probably on Tuesday, yun ang pangako niyang babalik siya,” he told reporters on Friday.
He noted that the DoJ has no participation on Dayan’s affidavit submitted to the Lower House panel but they will ask clarification on some inconsistencies in his (Dayan) statement.
Aguirre said the sworn affidavits that will be evaluated and studied will determine if he is qualified to become a state witness and placed under the WPP free from criminal prosecution.
”Dapat wala siyang ikatakot kasi pag sinabi niya lahat ng totoo at matanggap siya sa witness protection program magkakaroon siya ng immunity from prosecution,” he noted.
Asked on the inconsistencies of Dayan’s statement, Aguirre answered “ika-clarify ko lahat yan kay Ronnie Dayan kung sa aming pagtatanong ay magiging qualified pa rin siya despite the fact may tinatago pa siya sa kanyang testimony kahapon… at kung makapasa siya, doon lang namin siya issyuhan ng regular coverage under the witness protection program, hindi lamang provisional.”
Aside from Dayan, alleged drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. had also been given provisional coverage under the WPP, he said.
The DoJ chief said that Kerwin’s lawyer is at the DOJ on Friday making preparatory documentation to book Espinosa under the provisional coverage of WPP.
”The provisional WWP for Kerwin will start on Saturday if his lawyer and my Usec be in agreement,” he explained.
According to Aguirre, the benefits of provisional WPP status will have protection, food provision and allowance.
”Provisional coverage ng WPP if ikaw (ay) material witness sa malaking kaso and you need protection, yun bibigyan ng provisional coverage ng WPP,” he noted.
Dayan and Espinosa would be given security protection after providing testimonies during the inquiry in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, pending review and approval of their eligibility as state witnesses.
Aguirre bared the DOJ would examine the affidavits of the two personalities dubbed as “last pieces of the puzzle” in the drug trafficking charges against Sen. de Lima, which will undergo preliminary investigation in the department.
He noted that for Espinosa and Dayan to qualify as state witnesses for WPP coverage, they must appear to be not the most guilty in the crimes charged.
Once covered by witness protection program (WPP), they will given a provision of a housing facility or safe house that could be extended to members of their families, financial assistance, assistance in obtaining means of livelihood, payment equivalent of salary as compensation for absences in work, travel expenses and medical expenses.
Espinosa, who had a warrant of arrest after being indicted of weapons and drug charges, was arrested last month in Abu Dhabi for violating the country’s immigration laws.
He had earlier sought to be placed under the WPP as a condition for his return to the Philippines.
Dayan, meanwhile, was captured by police in La Union last November 22 based on the warrant issued by the House justice committee that cited him in contempt for ignoring its summons to attend its hearings involving the investigation on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the NBP.
He also asked for the same protection as Espinosa after being held in Congress.
Dayan also faces drug raps at the DOJ filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and former NBI deputy directors Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda.
The complaints stemmed from De Lima’s alleged involvement in the proliferation of the illegal drugs trade at the national penitentiary.
Aside from De Lima and Dayan, several former government officials and high-profile NBP inmates are also facing charges for violating Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act) for allegedly conniving with De Lima in connection to the said activity inside the NBP.
Apart from the three drug trafficking complaints, high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian also filed earlier graft charges against De Lima at the DOJ.
The DOJ has already issued subpoena on De Lima and other respondents in the four complaints, including former DOJ undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Franklin Bucayu.
The investigating panel of prosecutors set the first hearing on December 2 at 1 p.m. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA-northboundasia.com