Reading Between (and Beyond) the Lines of Espinosa and Dayan


When finally the long arms of the law caught up with them, Kerwin Espinosa, a big-time drug lord from Eastern Visayas, and Ronnie Dayan, Senator De Lima’s driver-lover,  were made to appear in the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively. The upper and lower chambers of the Philippine Congress are currently conducting congressional inquiries related to the government campaign against illegal drugs.

Both Espinosa and Dayan are believed to be holding vital information about the illegal drug trade in the Philippines thus they are regarded as key witnesses in the congressional inquiries. Their eventual capture and appearance in the Congress hearings were considered as welcome developments.

Espinosa testified in the Senate on November 23, 2016 and Dayan in the House of representatives the day after. Both of them opened  the proverbial “can of worms.” Many of the things they said may already be common knowledge but hearing them directly making the confirmations was demoralizing, to say the least.

Espinosa, who probably was still smarting over his misfortunes and still trying to cope with the tragic death of his father, named policemen and high ranking PNP officers involved in the illegal drug trade. He provided shocking narratives of how the police in his areas of operation in the Visayas turned a blind eye on his illegal activities in exchange for millions of protection money from him. In addition, he divulged that even the policemen themselves were peddling drugs. But what may be considered as his biggest revelation was Senator De Lima receiving drug money from him.

But while Espinosa was visibly irate for those accused of murdering his father while in prison were also present in the hearing, Dayan was seemingly the opposite. He appeared to be relaxed and was in good spirits. Contributing to that was perhaps the fact that humor was interspersed in the manner that the hearing in the House of Representatives was carried out.

There were two key points made by Dayan in his testimony. Firstly, he confirmed that he was indeed, Senator De Lima’s lover and that they had an affair for 7 years. Lastly, he admitted receiving money from Espinosa in behalf of the senator.

Now, what do we make out of the testimonies made by Espinosa and Dayan?  What’s there between (and beyond) the lines of the depositions they delivered?

Reaction to the secrets Kerwin and Ronnie revealed differ. Not surprising anymore is the fact that opinions and views expressed by both the ordinary citizens and their leaders depended on which side of the political fence they are standing.

The so-called “yellow brigade,” members and supporters of the Liberal party and their allies who are perceived to be anti-Duterte and would understandably oppose the programs and advocacies of the incumbent President, came to the rescue of the beleaguered lady-senator.

On the other hand, the ones championing the drive of the government to eradicate the country’s drug problems, find more reasons to grill and subject to unwarranted ridicule the human rights advocate turned senator.

Dayan corroborated Espinosa’s claim that Sen. Delima accepted drug money. That’s the cake. The icing was his full disclosure of their affair that has been circulating in the rumor mill for the past years.

The gossip-hungry nation seemed to have forgotten about the cake and feasted merrily on the icing. The icing was so sweet that it even appeared to have gotten the better of the lawmakers who were conducting the hearing. During the said hearing, the members of the House of Representatives focused so much on the details of the love affair between the lady-senator and her former security aide-driver.

The real issue is how true is it that the former Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and Justice Secretary accepted drug money. Serious accusations indeed. That is what really matters and should be the main focus of the inquiry.

As to her culpabilities emanating from her past romantic affairs with Dayan (and a certain Warren Cristobal) is up to the members of the Senate Ethics Committee and the Supreme Court. If found guilty of wrongdoings she could be kicked out from the Senate and might be disbarred on account of immorality. She could even go to jail if adultery can be charged against her.

Those supporting Senator De Lima were quick to bring attention to the inconsistencies in the affidavits executed by Espinosa and Dayan. They mentioned in particular the conflicting dates as to when Espinosa gave Dayan the supposed drug money.

Do inconsistencies in the dates and time in the affidavits of Espinosa and Dayan make  their testimony false?  When two persons met and they cannot identify the exact time and date they did so does it mean that they did not actually meet?

While the dates may be conflicting, both men acknowledged that money changed hands…that Espinosa gave Dayan a certain amount and Dayan confirmed that he received it…and that the money landed in Senator De Lima’s coffers.

Experts believe that Espinosa and Dayan are holding their cards close to their chests. They have not divulged everything they ought to say for reasons only them know. But as it is, their testimonies have confirmed that drug syndicates have already infiltrated the different branches of the government and the ranks of the Philippine National Police. They have, indeed, corrupted the government officials and police officers.

Espinosa’s testimony in particular have left the following questions mercifully begging for answers.

Why did it take this long before the government addressed the illegal drug trade? What have the governments in the past done to curb  the problem?

If any of past governments would claim they have done something then they have to explain why the number of drug-dependent Filipinos have reached more than 3 million and why the number of drug traders increased by the thousands  .

The more perplexing question is, “How come that drug dealers could continue with their drug trade even if they were behind bars?” Senator De Lima has a lot of explaining to do. She really need to explain why right under her nose, as Secretary of Justice who’s in charge of Bureau of Corrections,   the drug trade flourish in the country’s penitentiary. The senator also needs to disprove the claims made by convicted drug lords that she received money from them.

Conflicting may be are the details in the testimonies of Espinosa, Kerwin and the high-profile inmates in the national penitentiary  but what those accusers are saying are too difficult to ignore.

Another question is, “How deep has the drug syndicates penetrated the country’s police force and the different branches of the government? How many police officers, judges, senators, congressmen and local and national officials are protectors of drug syndicates?

General Dela Rosa, the head of the Philippine National Police,  cried in exasperation upon realizing during that Senate inquiry how much credibility his organization have lost.

Espinosa’s revelations  have shown how complicated the drug problem in the Philippines is and how full is President Duterte’s plate.

If only the government’s drive against drugs be viewed using not only the lens of extra judicial killing.

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