NBI chief leaves agency

President Aquino belatedly accepts his resignation, but claims he quit due to ill health

RESIGNED. National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director Nonattus Rojas in a press conference at the NBI, 7 August 2013. EPA/ Francis Malasig

MANILA, Philippines – Despite the President’s appeal, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) chief Nonnatus Rojas on Friday, September 6, bid farewell to the agency.

Rojas met with his staff to say goodbye, encouraging them to continue working together. He tendered his “irrevocable resignation” Monday, September 2, in connection with alleged leaks in the agency on the Janet Lim-Napoles case.

Hours after his meeting, Malacañang released a statement quoting President Benigno Aquino III as saying that he was “constrained to accept, with deep regret [Rojas’] resignation.”

Rojas said he was resigning out of delicadeza but in the statement, Aquino said Rojas’ “period of service has taken a serious toll on his health.”

“It is my belief that it would be an unwarranted imposition on the well-being of a model public servant, for Director Rojas, to remain in the NBI,” Aquino said in the statement.

De Lima had earlier appealed to Rojas to think twice about his decision, even recommending to the President not to accept Rojas’ irrevocable resignation. She told reporters on Thursday, however, that neither she nor Aquino was able to persuade Rojas to stay.

Rojas resigned on September 2, a day after the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted the President as saying that the NBI has “less trustworthy” people, which was the reason he had chosen not to turn over Napoles to them when she surrendered in Malacañang on August 28.

Napoles — the alleged mastermind of a multi-billion scam which allowed lawmakers and Napoles to pocket government funds — was issued a warrant of arrest for a separate case of serious illegal detention. According to De Lima, however, Napoles was able to evade arrest in August because someone leaked the warrant to her beforehand which allowed her to escape.

The NBI is the main agency tasked to probe the Napoles case.

On Friday, Rojas also met with NBI’s deputy directors who have been accused by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as having “trust issues.”

The NBI falls under the Department of Justice (DOJ).

De Lima’s choice

Aquino praised Rojas for his contributions to the agency.

“In the limited time since he was appointed Director of the National Bureau of Investigation last July 20, 2012, Atty. Nonnatus R. Rojas managed the transformation of the NBI from an agency reeling from very serious controversies, to one that has regained pride of place as the foremost investigative arm of the Department of Justice,” he said.

Rojas, who was previously a DOJ prosecutor, was only expected to serve as Officer-in-Charge when former Director Magtanggol B. Gatdula was relieved over extortion allegations. Aquino said this made Rojas’ achievements all the more “remarkable.”

“He did not fail us. Director Rojas excelled in his assigned tasks, and was instrumental in restoring the credibility of the NBI,” he said.

Aquino said De Lima “will directly supervise the National Bureau of Investigation, including the appointment of an Officer-in-Charge to ensure the effective continuation of the NBI’s tasks.”

Aside from Rojas, Deputy Director for Administrative Services Edmundo Arugay also filed his resignation Tuesday, effective Sept 14 following De Lima’s statement and her request that Deputy Directors tender their courtesy resignations.

But at least two deputy directors, Reynaldo Esmeralda for Intelligence Services and Ruel Lasala for Special Investigation Services have refused to resign, arguing they had nothing to do with the alleged leak. De Lima said she cannot force the two to leave.

De Lima has admitted it may take longer to file cases against Napoles following Rojas’ departure. – Rappler.com

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