National Bureau of Investigation

Fresh start for NBI under new director Medardo de Lemos

Jairo Bolledo
Fresh start for NBI under new director Medardo de Lemos

NEW DIRECTOR. File photo of newly appointed NBI Director Medardo De Lemos.

National Bureau of Investigation

A long-time NBI official, De Lemos replaces Duterte appointee Eric Distor as new director

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now entering a new phase after its new director assumed his post. 

On Tuesday, August 9, newly-appointed lawyer Medardo de Lemos took his oath before Justice Secretary Boying Remulla.

Before his appointment, De Lemos was first named OIC by Remulla. He was later named by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the NBI’s new director to lead the bureau responsible for probing into crimes and other violations of Philippine laws. 

Early confusion? 

Although he was previously the NBI OIC, internal dynamics delayed De Lemos’ assumption of his post as director, documents obtained by Rappler showed.

Former OIC Eric Distor, an appointee of former president Rodrigo Duterte, served as the OIC from February 2020 to June 2022. More than a year after his OIC appointment, Distor was also named senior deputy director of the NBI, with De Lemos as director.

Before De Lemos’ official appointment, he asked for Remulla’s legal guidance and inquired about Distor’s position. In a memorandum dated July 22, Remulla said Distor’s other position, senior deputy director, was invalid.

“We advised that the position of Senior Deputy Director is deemed invalid, ineffective, and non-existent as it still does not have qualification standards duly approved and confirmed by the Civil Service Commission,” Remulla said in the memo.

Fresh start for NBI under new director Medardo de Lemos

On June 30, Marcos, through his executive secretary Vic Rodriguez, issued Memorandum Circular No. 1, which provided that “all presidential appointees occupying positions created in excess of the authorized staffing pattern in the bureaus in the executive department are declared vacant.”

Hence, Distor was also stripped off of his senior deputy director position. In a chance interview on August 9, Remulla said the matter was settled and that Distor, also a career NBI official, could revert to his old position.

Okay na ‘yon, settled na ‘yon…Siyempre, we have to look at some other matters that have to be resolved prior to any return. Meron ano ‘yan eh, may iki-clear pa tayong mga bagay,” the DOJ chief said. (It was settled, that was settled already. Of course, we have to look at some other matters that have to be resolved prior to any return. There are other things that have to be cleared.)

Distor will return as Director IV at the Intelligence Service of the bureau.

Who is De Lemos?

De Lemos is a long-time career official of the NBI who also served as an assistant director of the bureau. He has been serving for over 30 years.

Even before his appointment, De Lemos once headed the NBI in OIC capacity after he was tapped by then-justice secretary Leila de Lima in 2013. In the announcement of his recent appointment, Marcos’ press secretary, Trixie Angeles, referred to De Lemos as “the bureau’s most senior officer.”

De Lemos has a law degree, which he obtained from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1983. Two years later, he graduated from the NBI Academy.

In 1994, the new NBI chief completed the Officers Senior Executive Course from the Philippine Public Safety College. He also took courses conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1998.

De Lemos holds a Career Executive Service Officer rank, which he obtained in 2003. At present, he is also a regular lecturer at the Philippine Judicial Academy.

Among his achievements as an NBI official is the crafting of the bureau’s rules of engagement. The guidelines defined the rules on the use of deadly force in operations.

Under De Lemos’ leadership as NBI Central Visayas regional director, the bureau busted the Alvin Flores robbery group in 2009. – with reports from Lian Buan/Rappler

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.