Aquino accepts NBI chief resignation ‘with deep regret’

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President Benigno S. Aquino III INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III on Friday accepted “with deep regret” the resignation of National Bureau of Investigation Director Nonnatus Rojas.

“I am constrained to accept, with deep regret, his resignation,” Aquino said in a statement, citing health issues as reason behind Rojas’ resignation.

Rojas on Monday tendered his “irrevocable resignation” out of delicadeza (sense of propriety). This came after Aquino disclosed that charges were being readied against two NBI officials who allegedly tipped off suspected pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles about the warrant of arrest issued  against her last  August 14.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima immediately sent Aquino a letter asking him “wholeheartedly, firmly and unequivocally” not to accept Rojas’ resignation. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Monday stressed Malacañang still has trust in the resigned NBI chief, saying “he has achieved a lot.”

However, De Lima said Thursday that Rojas stood firm in his decision to resign.

In accepting his resignation, Aquino attributed his decision to the NBI chief’s “period of service [that] has taken a serious toll on his health.”

“It is my belief that it would be an unwarranted imposition on the well-being of a model public servant, for Director Rojas, to remain in the NBI,” Aquino said.

Aquino lauded Rojas for “the transformation of the NBI from an agency reeling from very serious controversies, to one that has regained pride of place as the foremost investigative arm of the Department of Justice.”

He recalled how Rojas, who was then a prosecutor in the DOJ, expected only to serve as officer-in-charge after former NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula was dismissed over allegations of kidnapping and extortion attempts by NBI agents.

Aquino earlier told Inquirer that the NBI team working on Napoles’ cases was “very trusted” but at the same time could not be tasked to do other work such as surveillance. He said Rojas sometimes had to contend and rely on “less trustworthy” agents because the NBI is severely undermanned.

Aquino said De Lima will temporarily supervise the bureau while looking for an officer-in-charge.

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