MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Nonnatus Rojas has tendered his irrevocable resignation.
The announcement was made at noontime on Monday by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, who told reporters that Rojas thought it was the "honorable thing to do" on the heels of a banner story of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) Sunday quoting Pres. Aquino to have said that the NBI "has its share of 'less trustworthy' officials and agents under Dir. Nonnatus Rojas."
"The letter of resignation is addresed to the President through me... tendering his irrevocable resignation as Director of the NBI effective upon the approval or the acceptance of the President," De Lima said.
No reason was cited in Rojas' resignation letter, but the justice chief said she could only "surmise" on what pushed Rojas to do so.
"He just feels, he thinks, he believes, that is the most honorable thing to do because of the cloud of doubt being cast or that may have been cast on the NBI as an institution and on him as the leader of the institution.
"Medyo naging very sensitive siya," she said.
De Lima will recommend that the President deny Rojas' resignation, stressing that she "did not want to lose a good man."
Before being designated as NBI OIC last year, Rojas served as a Regional State Prosecutor.
"I'm recommending wholehearteldy [to the President] not to accept. Firmly and wholeheartedly. He just feels na as the leader of the institution, that's the honorable thing to do.
"It goes to show that he is very principled. Ini-explain ko na [to Rojas] na 'hindi ikaw ang tinutukoy ng pangulo and definitely you have my trust and confidence,' and I think that the President has trust and confidence in him," she said.
De Lima said she is proud and satisfied of the performance and accomplishments of the NBI under Rojas' leadership, but admitted that just like any other agency, the bureau has its share of "misfits."
De Lima also stressed that letting go of Rojas while the NBI is conducting its fact-finding investigation into the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam may not be a sound decision due to the "sensitive" nature of the probe.
BETTER FOR DEPUTY DIRECTORS TO TENDER RESIGNATION, NOT ROJAS
In light of Rojas' courtesy resignation, the justice chief said that his deputies should instead offer their resignation. She did not give details.
"So since eto na nga, its institutional integrity, it's an issue of institutional integrity, mas maganda siguro na yung mga Deputy Directors -- sila dapat mag-isip na mag-offer, mag-tender ng courtesy resignation.
"Hindi dapat si Dir Nonni. Bakit si Dir Nonni?" De Lima said.
The justice chief, however, believes that the President was "misquoted" in the Inquirer report on the possible filing of charges against two ranking NBI officials suspected of ties with senators linked to the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam, and who may have tipped off businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles on the impending issuance of her arrest warrant for serious illegal detention.
The NBI is conducting a probe into the anomaly.
"Hindi yata accurate yun, mukhang na-misquote lang ang presidente. I'm not aware na mayroong charges ifa-file against two NBI executives. May duda talaga kami na may nag-leak pero as to kung saan talaga o kung sino talaga nag-leak, wala pa kaming ganoong validation.
"I think nung sinabi [by the President] na let's just wait for the filing of charges, he must have referred not to the filing of charges against unnamed NBI executives but the Senators," De Lima said.
The NBI has yet to conclude its investigation into the multi-billion peso scam and recommend the filing of appropriate charges.
PALACE STILL TRUSTS ROJAS
Meantime, there is no word yet if President Aquino is accepting the resignation of Rojas.
But presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the Palace continues to trust Rojas, citing the big issues that the agency has handled under his leadership, such as the Atimonan shootout and the death of a Taiwanese fisherman in Balintang Channel.
"Yes," Lacierda said when asked if the Palace shares De Lima's trust in Rojas.
"If you recall, a number of investigations, a number of reports ha[s] been initiated under his watch. You've got Atimonan, you've got the Balintang Channel report, some other reports, and there are a number of sensitive cases handled by Director Noni Rojas coming from Secretary Leila de Lima."
De Lima has recommended that the President reject Rojas' resignation.
The Palace dismissed criticisms against the NBI for failing to locate Napoles before she surrendered to President Aquino.
"Hindi naman po institusyon ang problema. May mga iilan talaga na in the words nga e, 'less trustworthy.' Malaki po ang nagawang… marami pong nagawa si Director Noni Rojas kaya… 'yung ang katwiran kung bakit ang rekomendasyon po ni Secretary Leila de Lima ay i-reject ang kanyang resignation," Lacierda said.
He said that the case buildup on the pork barrel scam continues even as there is no action taken yet on Rojas' resignation. -- with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News