The real “rats” in the National Bureau of Investigation, not resigned NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas, are apparently still gnawing their way deep into the agency.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who has supervision over the NBI, said she would ask all six deputy directors of the agency to submit resignation letters, hoping to get rid of four of them that she said she wanted out because of “trust and integrity” issues.
De Lima declined to elaborate on what these issues were, but she said the four NBI officials were not involved in the ongoing investigation of the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly involving Janet Lim-Napoles and several lawmakers.
The four deputy directors, however, had been linked to “alleged illicit and irregular activities” though there had been “no concrete proof” to pin them down, De Lima said.
Should these deputy directors cling to their posts, De Lima said replacing them would be easy since they were not career executive service officers protected by security of tenure.
De Lima demanded the resignations after Rojas on Monday quit out of delicadeza (propriety) as NBI chief in reaction to statements made by President Aquino that rats in the NBI tipped off Napoles about her pending arrest.
De Lima said Rojas’ irrevocable resignation, which a Palace spokesperson said President Aquino had yet to act upon, offered her the chance to do some housecleaning at the NBI.
While De Lima demanded the resignation letters of all six officials, however, she was particular about one that she wanted to stay put—Virgilio Mendez, NBI deputy director for regional operation service.
As of late afternoon yesterday, only Edmundo Arugay, NBI deputy director for administrative service, had submitted a resignation letter. His resignation is to take effect on Sept. 14 when he returns from a trip abroad, according to De Lima.
“I resigned out of delicadeza,” Arugay said, when contacted by the Inquirer.
Arugay said he was calling on his fellow deputy directors to muster the courage to submit resignation letters or be accused of clinging to their posts.
Arugay, however, said he did not feel alluded to by the President when the latter said misfits in the NBI were helping Napoles.
“I handle the administrative service of NBI and I do not have any operating unit or am involved in any investigation that will make me a suspect for tipping off suspects,” said the soft-spoken Arugay.
Aside from Mendez and Arugay, the other NBI deputy directors are Reynaldo Esmeralda (intelligence service), Ruel Lasala (special investigation service), Rickson Chiong (technical service) and Rafael Ragos (comptroller service).
Fate of Roxas unclear
In an ambush interview, De Lima said she did not know if the President had acted on Rojas’ resignation or her recommendation for Mr. Aquino to reject it.
According to De Lima, she is still trying to convince Rojas to change his mind, but the President had already talked with the resigned NBI chief.
De Lima said the President, “without saying it explicitly” knew that the ongoing investigation of the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly involving Napoles and several lawmakers would be affected by Rojas resignation.
In Malacañang, a spokesperson of Mr. Aquino said the President, indeed, had not acted on Rojas’ resignation.
“Whether it’s revocable or irrevocable, there has to be a response (from the President) of course,” said Abigail Valte, one of the spokespersons of Mr. Aquino.
According to De Lima, she would appeal to the “sense of delicadeza” of the other deputy directors who have not submitted resignation letters. Their resignations, said De Lima, would give Mr. Aquino the leeway to decide who to keep or replace in the NBI.
De Lima, in the same ambush interview, also accused Lorna Kapunan, lawyer of Napoles, of trying to discredit the NBI. “Am I next,” De Lima said, in reply to questions about Kapunan’s statement accusing De Lima of actually being the source of the leak of information about Napoles’ arrest.
“What do they want?” said a visibly irked De Lima. “For me to resign? Is that what they want next?”
Kapunan, in a separate interview, said she was just being “factual” when she said that it was De Lima who leaked the information to the media.
According to Kapunan, the presence of Napoles’ lawyers at the Makati City Regional Trial Court shortly before the arrest warrant for Napoles and her brother, Reynald Lim, were issued should not be given malice because the lawyers were there waiting for the court to schedule a hearing on a motion to
determine probable cause against Napoles for the serious illegal detention case.
“Sadly, it’s Secretary De Lima herself who is destroying the very institution she is relying on by asking her deputy directors to resign,” Kapunan said in an ambush interview at the Supreme Court.
Refused to name
Mr. Aquino’s statement against rats in the NBI came amid talk of two ranking NBI officials tipping Napoles off about her arrest, allowing the alleged pork barrel scam queen to go into hiding for at least two weeks.
In a talk with editors and reporters of Inquirer, the President refused to name who the NBI officials are but said they had links with two senators involved in the scam. He refused to identify the senators either.
According to Valte, she, too, is not aware of whether the President would reject or accept Rojas’ resignation, though it is irrevocable. “I have no update on that yet,” Valte said.