NBI director resigns-A A +A
Monday, September 2, 2013
MANILA (3rd Update) -- Nonnatus Rojas quit as director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday in the middle of the agency's preparation of filing plunder cases against businesswoman Janet Napoles and lawmakers allegedly involved in the misuse of pork barrel funds.
It was an irrevocable resignation although no particular reason was cited in his letter, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters.
De Lima said Rojas' decision could have been due to President Benigno Aquino III's revelation last week that cases will be filed against two NBI officials who allegedly tipped off Napoles about the arrest warrant for alleged serious illegal detention of scam whistleblower Benhur Luy.
That made the hunt for Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim difficult for the NBI despite fielding at least a dozen tracker teams.
The unidentified NBI officials supposedly have links to two senators implicated in the scandal, although De Lima said this information is not yet confirmed.
Napoles eluded arrest for 14 days before she surrendered to Aquino in Malacañang on August 28. She is currently detained at Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Read the related story.
"Kahit inexplain ko na di ikaw (Rojas) ang tinutukoy ng Pangulo and you have my trust and confidence, and I can say and think that the President has trust and confidence in him ay gino-go pa rin niya ito," De Lima said, adding she will ask Aquino "wholeheartedly" to reject Rojas' resignation.
The Justice secretary summoned Rojas to her office after reading his resignation letter. There, Rojas explained to De Lima that quitting will be the "most honorable" way to do in light of Aquino's pronouncements.
"I don't think the President was casting any doubt on the institution. Ilan-ilan lang, kasi nga pinagdududahan natin na posible na may nagleak dun sa warrant of arrest kay Mrs. Napoles. Nung sinabi ng Pangulo na the institution has its share of less trustworthy officials, he was just stating a fact," she said.
Rojas, a former prosecutor in Ilocos region, replaced Magtanggol Gatdula early last year after the latter was accused of extorting money from a Japanese woman. De Lima and Rojas finished law in San Beda College.
"Director Nonnie is a quiet person. He is low key, soft spoken, maprinsipyo," said De Lima.
De Lima said she did not want to lose a "good man," adding Rojas' six deputies should consider submitting their courtesy resignation.
In a text message, NBI Deputy Director for Regional Operations Services Virgilio Mendez said he is willing to vacate his position if De Lima asks for it.
"I have given 34 years of my life for this bureau but if I lost your trust in my capacity, I will go home and plant kamote (sweet potato)," he said.
Mendez felt bad that Rojas had to go.
"The bureau has lost a decent, honorable and hardworking person. Dark forces are out to destroy anyone who stands to fight for good governance," he said.
NBI Deputy Director for Intelligence Services Reynaldo Esmeralda declined to comment on De Lima’s call. He said an NBI official will not risk his career just to extend favors to Napoles.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Palace still trusts Rojas.
"Yes. If you recall, a number of investigations, a number of reports have been initiated under his watch," he said in a press briefing when asked if Malacañang shares De Lima's trust in Rojas.
Lacierda said Malacañang was yet to receive Rojas' resignation letter.
He noted that under Rojas leadership, several high profile investigations were conducted by the NBI, such as the Atimonan incident, and the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman off Balintang Channel by the Philippine Coast Guard.
Lacierda said it was not the NBI as an institution, which was problematic, but those few people in the agency who were "less trustworthy."
He added that the case build-up on the multi-billion peso scam by a team of the NBI would continue. (Virgil Lopez/SDR/Sunnex)