Dayan admits affair with De Lima for 7 years

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Senator Leila De Lima's former driver and alleged drug money collector, Ronnie Dayan, is now in custody of authorities. He also admits to a seven-year relationship with her.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Without batting an eyelash, Ronnie Dayan, the country's sought-after fugitive who became a household name confirmed on Tuesday his affair with his former employer, Senator Leila De Lima during her term as Justice Secretary.

Asked about his relationship with De Lima, he said they were together for seven years.

"Totoo po may relasyon kami, seven years. Seven years," Dayan said in a press conference where he was presented by Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. [It's true, we had a relationship for seven years. Seven years.]

Their relationship ended in 2014, said the former driver-bodyguard of De Lima. 

But he added he did not go into hiding to protect De Lima. He said he hid for fear of his life.

Dayan, dressed in  gray camouflage pants and a white T-shirt with a black bulletproof vest on top, looked tired. He refused to elaborate on details of his relationship with De Lima. The senator has admitted to the relationship with Dayan in a TV interview last week.

"Hindi pa ako handa sumagot sa mga ganyan. Mas maganda kung sa Congress para alam din ng Congress," Dayan said. [I'm not yet ready to answer those kinds of question. It's better to answer it in Congress so that Congress knows.]

Dayan was arrested by the Philippine National Police on Tuesday before noon.

He said he had no help nor protection from De Lima or any local government official.

Dela Rosa: Dayan tried to escape but failed

PNP Chief Dela Rosa presented Dayan to the media after his arrest.

Dayan tried to escape from the police but failed.

"Matagal ito na operation dahil talagang nagtago sya ng husto," Dela Rosa said at the press briefing.

"Nagkakaroon ng habulan. Matagal yung chase nila, yung literal na chase talaga (gesturing running actions)."

[Translation: This operation took long because he really hid. There was a chase. The chase was long, and it was a literal chase.]

Dela Rosa said Dayan hid in Sitio Bato, San Gabriel, in the province of La Union.

"Nagtago pa siya sa ilog. Lahat na ay ginawa nya pero ang ating mga operatives ay magaling rin na pursuer. Talagang hindi sya tinigilan hanggang mahuli," Dela Rosa added.

[He even hid along a river. He did all of that but our operatives are also smart and good pursuers.]

Dayan said at first, the police operatives also had difficulties chasing him. But exhaustion from chase caught up with him.

"Dami kong sugat sa pakikipag habulan sa kanila. Pero nahirapan din sila sa akin. Nahirapan sila ng ilang oras lang dahil sa tago. Masukal yung bundok," Dayan said. [I had a lot of cuts because of the chase. It was difficult for them during for some hours because I hid. The mountain was dense with grass.]

According to Dela Rosa, he personally conducted initial interview with Dayan. He said Dayan decided to be a "friendly witness," and that he would cooperate and give truthful testimony to the Congressional hearing.

Dela Rosa noted that Dayan was never coerced into being a friendly witness.

"We do not exert undue duress or undue pressure upon him. Kita naman nyo, walang gasgas. Hindi po sya sinaktan, hindi sya tinakot," Dela Rosa said. [As you can see, he doesn't even have any scratch. He was not hurt, he was not threatened.]

"Again, buhay ha, buhay. Yung witness nandito, hindi namamatay yan. Buhay yan." [He's alive. The witness is here, he won't die. He lives.]

Asked if there's someone who influenced him to testify in Congress, Dayan said: "Wala po." [There's none.]

The police reported that Dayan's arrest was a result of one month and 12 days of continued operations — and that there is no truth to claims that Dayan was set up.

De Lima on Dayan's arrest: I hope he's treated well

After Dayan's arrest, De Lima issued a statement alleging a long-running attempt to make the public believe that she's involved in illegal drug trade.

"Sa pangunguna ni Pangulong Duterte, pilit ding inuungkat ang inamin kong naging relasyon kay Ronnie Dayan upang paniwalain ang publiko na naging bagman ko raw sya," De Lima said. [With the leadership of President Duterte, my relationship with Dayan is talked about, to make the public believe that he was my bagman.]

De Lima insists she's innocent, and that she's willing to face her accusers anytime, but at the proper venue.

"Sa tanang buhay ko, lalong lalo na sa paglilingkod sa gobyerno, hindi ako nakinabang sa anumang katiwalian, dahil hindi ko po kailanman kayang talikuran ang tiwala ng sambayanan," De Lima said in her statement. [In my entire life as a public servant, never did I benefit from corruption, because I can never turn my back on the nation.]

Meanwhile, the Senator also said she hopes that Dayan — and the other witnesses like alleged Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa — will be treated well by the authorities.

"Sa pagkakaaresto kay Ronnie Dayan, umaasa ako sa tamang pagtrato sa kanya ng mga kinauukulan. Gano'n narin ang panawagan ko sa Pangulo para sa iba pang mga testigo laban sa akin katulad ni Kerwin Espinosa," De Lima said.

"Ako naman talaga ang habol nyo. Huwag na ninyo silang pahirapan pa, mga kriminal man sila o hindi."

[Translation: After his arrest, I hope that he will be treated well by the authorities. I call on the President to do the same thing to the other witnesses like Kerwin Espinosa. I'm really who you're after. Don't let them suffer, may they be criminal or not.]

De Lima told her critics to stop treating her life as "drama" and just file cases against her.

She also called on the public to be vigilant. She added, she ultimately believed that the truth will prevail.

De Lima faces Espinosa in a Senate hearing on Wednesday. Dayan is now in custody of the House of Representatives and will face a congressional hearing on Thursday.

Also read: De Lima predicts grim fate for alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa