Aguirre: De Lima case 'strong' even without Dayan, Espinosa testimonies

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said Wednesday that the case against Sen. Leila De Lima on illegal drugs is strong even without the testimonies of key witnesses.

Aguirre was referring to De Lima's former driver and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan — who allegedly collected drug money for her — and Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, who is said to have given drug money to De Lima.

Read: Espinosa's pink notebook: Gov't officials, police, media men among 'drug protectors'

"Even without Dayan's testimony, even without Kerwin's testimony, sufficient na," Aguirre said in a Malacanang press briefing. "Sobra-sobra na nga pagdating sa testimonial evidence. But considering that we are strengthening the case, every single additional evidence, we welcome it," he added.

[Translation: Even without Dayan's testimony, even without Kerwin's testimony, the evidence is sufficient. In fact, we have more than enough testimonial evidence.]

Authorities are still on the hunt for Dayan, who is believed to be hiding in Pangasinan or somewhere in the northern Philippines, where he is allegedly being protected by officials still in power.

Espinosa, who is expected to arrive from Abu Dhabi early Friday, will be placed under witness protection, Aguirre said.

The Justice Department is also open to placing Dayan under the witness protection program.

No bank documents yet

Justice officials are convinced their case is strong even without any documentary evidence to show how drug money went into De Lima's bank accounts.

The National Bureau of Investigation has asked the Anti-Money Laundering Council for documents on the bank accounts of De Lima and other officials linked to the illegal drug trade.

But so far, only bank documents of the so-called 'narco-generals' or law-enforcement officials linked to the drug trade have been submitted.

Aguirre, however, insisted they have a solid case, especially with De Lima's recent admission of her affair with Dayan.

Read: Aguirre: De Lima's admission bolsters illegal drugs complaint

Once the Department of Justice completes its findings, the ball will be in the Ombudsman's court.

The Office of the Ombudsman has not launched an investigation against De Lima, as it has yet to see any solid leads to justify one.

Read: Ombudsman will not probe De Lima's alleged links to drug trade