Rojas rejects PNoy's appeal to stay at NBI
MANILA – Resigned National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) chief Nonnatus Caesar Rojas rejected President Benigno Aquino III's appeal to keep his post in the agency, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday.
De Lima said Aquino already appealed to Rojas to stay in the agency after the latter tendered his irrevocable resignation.
She added that she already talked to Rojas thrice but the former NBI official was not willing to change his mind.
"I tried already thrice to convince director Nonie (Rojas) to reconsider. Even PNoy talked to him already, and it seems he was also unsuccessful. Sabi niya 'I feel that it is the most honorable thing to do and I want to keep my honor and integrity intact,'" de Lima told ANC's Headstart.
Rojas announced his resignation Monday after a story by the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Aquino as saying that there were "less trustworthy" agents and officials within the agency.
De Lima said she and Aquino still trust Rojas, and that the president's statement was not directed towards the NBI chief.
Deputy Director for Administrative Services Edmundo Arugay also tendered his courtesy resignation Tuesday.
No distrust for NBI as an institution
De Lima clarified that even if she said that there were 3 or 4 NBI deputy directors involved in alleged activities, her trust for the NBI as an institution remains intact.
"Some sectors are playing it up and making it appear that the distrust is towards the NBI as an institution, doon nasaktan si Director Nonie - iyung 'less trustworthy,'" she said.
When she announced that some 3 or 4 NBI deputy directors must go, De Lima was quick to say that Deputy Director for Regional Operation Services Virgilio Mendez was not one of them.
"I see that deputy director Mendez has been working very hard and director Nonie would in fact assign to him several major investigations," she said.
Apart from Arugay and Mendez, the other Deputy Directors are Rickson Chiong (Technical Services), Reynaldo Esmeralda (Intelligence Services), Ruel Lasala (Special Investigative Services), and Rafael Ragos (Comptroller Services).
Despite her recent pronouncement, De Lima clarified that there is no solid evidence yet against the NBI deputy chiefs supposedly involved in anomalous activites. She, however, noted that reports against their supposed scrupulous deeds have been consistent.
"These are allegations although rather consistent, or rather persistent. I have yet to come across or see solid evidence or at least semblance of a solid or credible showing," she said.
The recent resignations at the NBI, which is under the Department of Justice, come amid the ongoing investigation into the pork barrel scam involing businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.
Napoles allegedly set up fake non-government organizations to tap pork barrel funds of lawmakers, who in turn got huge cuts from the illegal deals with the businesswoman.
In the Inquirer interview, Aquino said two ranking NBI officials tipped off Napoles to the impending arrest warrant against her in connection with the serious illegal detention case filed by pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhuy Luy.
De Lima said she is not aware who Aquino was referring to.
"If the president is indeed referring to two, they must have been among the 3 or 4 that I am talking about. But at this point, I am not inclined to name names," she said.
The Napoles camp has been expressing its distrust for NBI, which conducted a rescue operation for Luy last March 22.
The businesswoman's lawyer, Lorna Kapunan, also claimed that some NBI officials tried to extort P300 million from her client in exchange for the dropping of the illegal detention case.
Kapunan also said that De Lima, with her recent statements, is destroying NBI as an institution.
For her part, De Lima said: "It is definitely not my intention and I don’t think that would be the effect of such stance of mine. I just feel that with director Nonie's irrevocabnle resignation, this might be the opportunity for the institution to cleanse it ranks. In the middle of all this, we do need the trust of the public."