Saturday, December 26, 2015

"An Honorable Man" - NBI Director Caesar Nonnatus R Rojas (San Vicente IS to the World Series)

 "... at least in our day and age, when delicadeza is almost a museum piece, something thoroughly old-fashioned, best preserved behind a glass window... " PDI 

Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

The essence of this article is that Nature does not merely refer to our natural world, the Environment, but a kind of nature that resides in the mind, heart and spirit of man –Human Nature.  Here is such a man whom we may take a keyhole view of human nature, and from which we also view our own.  

Director Rojas is a native of San Vicente, Ilocos Sur.  He was appointed by the present administration to head the NBI, then riddled with controversies and shrouded by alleged anomalies which tarnished the good image of this highest investigative body of the country, the counterpart of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US. He took it on a concurrent capacity, leaving his post as regional prosecutor, also under the Department of Justice,

Cesar as he is fondly called in our town took the challenge. At the helm for more than a year the bureau began to gain back the trust and confidence of the people. It was able to establish stronger ties of support and cooperation with other offices of the government specifically in the overall fight against graft and corruption. The presence of Cesar in the bureau, being an “outsider” was a fresh wind.  It did not only boost the morale of the employees, it removed barriers within the bureau itself, separating the grain from the chaff, so to speak.  It was indeed a gargantuan task.

From here the task became bigger until it grew extremely difficult to handle. Like in a war, it is no longer the task of one man and hope to win; it needed a holistic down-the-line strategy. Cesar felt he was at a crossroad no place is more vulnerable.  It is here when he made a crucial decision. Which is the subject of this editorial about an honourable man none other than Caesar Nonnatus Rojas.  

Philippine Daily Inquirer Editorial 
September 8, 2013
An Honorable Man 

By all accounts, President Aquino did not have since-resigned National Bureau of Investigation director Nonnatus Rojas in mind, when he expressed his concern about "less trustworthy" officials working in the NBI.  Just the same Rojas felt resignation was the right response, and the only option.

In a TV interview, Secretary Leila de Lima recalled Rojas' words to her during one of the three times she tried to change his mind: "I feel that it is the most honorable thing to do and I want to keep my honor and integrity intact."

This is an unusual instance - at least in our day and age, when delicadeza is almost a museum piece, something thoroughly old-fashioned, best preserved behind a glass window. When Rojas insisted on resigning, despite repeated entreaties from De Lima and public statements from Malacañang officials, his conduct had all the impact of a museum artifact rousing itself to life and then walking out the main door.

People were stunned.

The point of honor here is not wounded pride, the sense that one has been unfairly blamed for the faults and shortcomings of others.  Rather, it is the opposite: the sense that leaders bear command responsibility for the institutions they lead.


While President Aquino was careful to make a distinction between the NBI as an institution whose reputation has been largely rehabilitated in the last few years and a few problematic officials and agents who answer to other bosses or baser motives, it is difficult to fault Rojas for thinking that the President's lack of trust in certain NBI officials was a reflection of his lack of confidence in the agency - and therefore in Rojas himself. 

The crucial adjective "full" can be easily misinterpreted; it is only fair to state that in fact President Aquino has learned to depend on the NBI for critical tasks.  But in the case of businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, the suspected mastermind behind the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, the President thought it necessary to bring in a third party: the national police. 

Napoles and her brother had accused the NBI of harassment and extortion, related to the charges of serious illegal detention involving her former employee and man whistle-blower Benhur Luy; having the police take Napoles into detention seemed like a reasonable compromise. 

This decision, together with the President's concern is about moles in the agency tipping Napoles off about her impending arrest and especially his statement about "less trustworthy" officials in determining the work of the NBI, must have been received by NBI personnel as a slap in the face.  For someone like Rojas, they must have amounted to an accusing finger, directed at him. 

Taken together, the President's statements and actions suggest that the rehabilitation of the NBI, even under Rojas, was not yet complete.  Rojas took that to mean his time is up.

Unlike other officials whose offices have been publicly rebuked by the President (Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon comes to mind), Rojas did not ask his principal whether he should resign. He just did it. ~ 


By Dr Abe V Rotor

Oh, Diogenes, don't despair,
put off your lamp at midday;
save it in the darkest hour,
when people rage than pray,
take into their hands the trilogy:
Liberte', Egalite', Fraternite'.

And if the dawn be spilled 
with crimson before the day,
when fail the hall of justice;
though heads roll in ignominy;
hold old sentinel, your lamp,
for someone else to see. ~    

Director Cesar comes from a family of honest and dedicated civil service servants, his father the late Atty Mariano Rojas was NBI regional director, and his mother the late Ms Librada Riotoc was an Auditor, both natives of San Vicente, IS.  Director Rojas is the eldest of three children, all successful in their career.  Director Rojas continues to serve the government as Regional Prosecutor. He is a model family man and citizen of his town, and the whole humanity for that matter. 

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