New NBI chief: Low profile, from the field

Buena Bernal
(3rd UPDATE) Virgilio Mendez rose from the ranks and spent many years as an investigator in Mindanao

NEW NBI CHIEF. Virgilio Mendez (center) takes his oath as the new director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), at the Department of Justice in Manila, 16 Jan 2014. Administering the oath is Justice Sec Leila de Lima (left). Photo by Buena Bernal/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE)– Virgilio Mendez, a veteran field investigator and lawyer who rose from the ranks, is the new director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Mendez took his oath before Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday, January 16 – the same date in 1978 when he joined the bureau as NBI Agent I.

Before his appointment to the top post of the country’s investigative agency, Mendez was deputy director for regional operations services.  

Described by insiders as low-key and not associated with any politician, Mendez spent many years in Mindanao, where he honed his skills as investigator.

De Lima hopes Mendez’ appointment will create a ripple effect to boost the performance of those in the bureau.

“It is, perhaps, time to, once again, hail somebody from the NBI ranks. Besides the obvious experience that an insider will bring to the NBI leadership, it will also serve as a confidence booster for those serving in the NBI,” she said. 

More than 3 decades of service

In his 36 years of service in the bureau, Mendez was able to apprehend suspects in high-profile cases.

Among the successful arrests which gained him commendations were: Guialaludin ‘Boy Muslim’ Otto who is wanted for two counts of murder, Abdulgani “Abdul Malang” Abas whose timely apprehension led to the interception of an improvised explosive device, and suspects in the brutal slay of Kristelle “Kae” Devantes

In 2011, Mendez was appointed his former post as deputy director for regional operations services. He was appointed as the NBI Regional Director of Region 10 in 2004. 

Mendez has a long list of timely apprehensions and successful arrests.

He was responsible for the arrest of murder suspects in the death of Lingayen Vice Mayor Ramon Arcinue and his wife. He was the lead investigator in the Atimonan shootout and personally supervised the investigation into the Cagayan De Oro bombing. (READ: Palace says Atimonan a ‘rubout’)

He is also in charge of the ongoing probe on alleged rice smuggler David Tan.

Wanted to be priest

Mendez was set out to pursue a priestly vocation. He finished his secondary education at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran City.

“The loss of the clergy is the gain of the NBI,” commented Justice Secretary de Lima in a press briefing.

Instead, Mendez finished his law degree at the Divine Word College in Tagbilaran City and passed the bar with a grade of 81.55%. 

He graduated from the NBI Academy in 1978, the year he was also assigned as an agent. –

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