MANILA (UPDATED) - Atty. Virgilio Mendez is the new Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Mendez, NBI Deputy Director for Regional Operations Services before assuming the bureau's top post, took his oath before Justice Secretary Leila De Lima Thursday morning, exactly 36 years since he joined the bureau as an agent on Jan. 16, 1978.
Mendez assumed the post four months after Atty. Nonnatus Rojas tendered his irrevocable resignation.
Mendez, 61, is an NBI insider who rose from the ranks of the country's top investigation arm.
He is the first NBI insider to be appointed Director, except for Atty. Ernesto Mantaring, since the passing of NBI Director Federico Opinion in 2000 due to kidney failure and diabetes.
A native of Bohol, Mendez also served as NBI Regional Director for Region X in 2004, Deputy Director for Comptroller Services from 2007 to 2009, and Deputy Director for Administrative Services from 2009 to 2011.
He became NBI Deputy Director for ROS from 2011.
De Lima, who personally endorsed Mendez to President Aquino as Rojas' replacement, said the former's appointment will be a boost to the morale of the men and women of the NBI.
"It is, perhaps, time to, once again, hail somebody from the NBI ranks. Besides the obvious experience that an insider will bring to the NBI leadership, it will also serve as a considerable morale booster for those serving in the NBI," De Lima said.
When Rojas, a member of the Department of Justice (DOJ) family, resigned, the justice chief called for the resignation of the NBI's Deputy Directors; De Lima said 3-4 of the bureau's 6 Deputy Directors had questionable records.
Mendez expressed his intent to resign, but De Lima said he had her confidence and refused to accept his resignation.
The issue affected the morale of the NBI bureaucracy, with some insiders expecting another outsider to be appointed NBI chief.
Born March 5, 1952, Mendez wanted to enter priesthood during his growing up years.
However, he ended up marrying Vilma Garcia, a native of Pagadian City, with whom he has three children: Ian, Ivan, and VJ.
"The clergy's loss became the NBI's gain," De Lima told reporters.
Apart from him, the members of Mendez's family are US citizens.
Mendez finished his law degree at the Divine Word College in Tagbilaran City; he passed the Bar Examinations with a grade of 81.55%.
He worked at the Abinales & Mendez law firm, and also worked as assistant manager of the UPSVEDPA Security Agency.
Some of Mendez's high-profile cases include the Kristelle "Kae" Devantes murder case, Cagayan De Oro bombing in July 2013, Balintang Channel probe, Atimonan Rubout case, the Aman Futures and Coco Rasuman investment scams, Rizal Day LRT bombing in 2000, the Lahad Datu/Sabah Standoff, shooting of Lingayen Vice-Mayor Ramon Arcinue and his wise, Zoraida, and the gun-for-hire raid in Batangas on Wednesday.
Mendez assured the public that he will do his best as new NBI chief.
"Thanks to the Hon. Secretary (De Lima). This is not an easy job but I will give everything that I have," Mendez said.
President Aquino signed Mendez's appointment on Jan. 10; Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa's transmittal letter, dated Jan. 14, was received by De Lima on Jan. 15.