MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) chief Nonnatus Rojas tendered his "irrevocable resignation" Monday, September 2, in connection with alleged leaks in the agency on the Janet Lim-Napoles case.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Rojas tendered his resignation after President Benigno Aquino III told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) there are people in the NBI who are "less trustworthy."
Rojas said the comment, reported by the Inquirer on Sunday, September 1, may have cast a cloud of doubt on the NBI's integrity, De Lima said in an interview on ANC Monday noon.
De Lima however said the President was "misquoted" by the paper.
Said De Lima: "I explained to [Rojas] the President was not casting any doubt on the organization.... I don't think there was ever an intention on the part of the President to generalize. He was not generalizing. That's not true."
"That is not fair to Director Rojas... I can tell you, the President was not at all referring to Director Noni… it's an issue of institutional integrity," she said.
Rojas's decision to resign "goes to show he is very principled," the Secretary added.
She said Aquino was referring to the suspected tip-off on the arrest warrant issued against Napoles and her brother Reynald Lim.
De Lima told ANC that she told President Benigno Aquino III "not to accept" the resignation.
"I don't want to lose a good man," she said.
The Inquirer reported that the leak was the reason President Aquino decided to turn over Napoles to the Philippine National Police (PNP) instead of the NBI. Napoles surrendered to the President on August 28.
Malacañang said they have yet to see the resignation letter.
"We have not received any info with respect to that, but Secretary de Lima mentioned she would recommend a rejection primarily because she trusts Director Noni Rojas and she is part of the team that does the case build up (against Napoles)," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
He said he has been entrusted with a number of sensitive cases, such as the Atimonan shootout investigation.
"Director Noni Rojas has been able to do a lot. We think this is why De Lima recommends rejection of resignation," he added.
He also said the Inquirer report made it clear the President said the institution is not the problem, but only some of those who work inside the bureau.
Lacierda added that work on the Napoles case continues, and Rojas is still involved.
The NBI has been on the Napoles case, and was the lead agency in the manhunt for the Napoles siblings.
On August 14, the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) ordered the arrest of Napoles and her brother for whistleblower Benhur Luy's illegal detention, a non-bailable offense.
However, De Lima said there were reports that Napoles' lawyers were at the RTC even before the warrant of arrest was issued, suggesting they had learned about it early on, indicating a possible tip-off.
The two are also allegedly part of a massive, multi-billion pork barrel scam which siphoned off lawmakers' Priority Development and Assistance Funds (PDAF) for ghost projects. - Rappler.com