House turns over Dayan to PNP custody

MANILA — The House of Representatives turned over Ronnie Dayan, former security aide of Sen. Leila de Lima, to the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) after he testified on Thursday in the congressional inquiry into the drug proliferation at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

During the reopening of the House probe into the Bilibid narcotics trade, the House Justice committee moved to release Dayan but some lawmakers raised alarm over his safety.

For security concerns, the panel issued a certification that Dayan will be taken under PNP custody despite expressing his desire to return to his home in Pangasinan.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he is willing to provide security assistance to Dayan if he requests for it.

Dayan, who was arrested by the police in La Union on Tuesday, was cited in contempt by the Lower Chamber last Oct. 10 for failure to appear before the previous hearings on the drugs proliferation in the NBP.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has also offered Dayan the government’s Witness Protection Program, but it is up to the latter to accept the offer.

”This morning, Mr. Ronnie Dayan has expressed his intention to be placed under the Witness Protection Program. Because of that, 16 contingents of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) are here just to accompany him to the NBI headquarters because we are planning to put him under provisional admission under the Witness Protection Program,” the Justice secretary said.

Furthermore, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez granted immunity to Dayan in connection with his testimony during the congressional inquiry.

”I hereby grant approval for your admission with your express consent, to the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act,” Alvarez said in a signed letter of approval.

Dayan is entitled to immunity from any criminal prosecution for the offenses in which his testimony will be given or used, the letter noted.

In his affidavit, Dayan said he collected drug money kickbacks on De Lima’s behalf from confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa back in 2014.

Dayan said Kerwin delivered the drug money five times in the following instances: the first time in August 2014, the second in October 2014, and the last three in November 2014.

Dayan, however, denied receiving any money from former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos.

He also denied knowing any of the Bilibid inmates-turned-witnesses who implicated him in the illegal drugs trade.

In the previous hearings, several high-profile inmates testified that Dayan collected drug money from drug lords and other inmates to help bankroll De Lima’s campaign kitty in the May 2016 elections.

Ragos, who also appeared in the previous hearings, said in his testimony that he delivered a total amount of PHP14.3 million to Dayan as De Lima’s alleged bagman. Filane Cervantes/