Justice Sec. Leila de Lima made yesterday’s groundbreaking of the Central Visayas building of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the venue to call on the agency to regain its lost glory.
Secretary De Lima challenged the personnel of the government’s premiere investigative and forensics services agency “to make a difference as the agency attempts to recover lost glory.”
“The NBI is an embattled institution. It is fighting to regain its credibility and earn once again the people’s trust,” De Lima said in an interview at the Cebu Capitol Social Hall yesterday.
De Lima was referring to the ouster of former NBI director Magtanggol Gatdula and other NBI officials who, early this year, were held liable by the fact-finding panel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly kidnapping and extorting money from a Japanese woman.
“It is unfortunate that although I truly believe that there are a lot more honest men and women in the bureau, like the men and the woman of NBI-7, it takes the indiscretions, greed, self-interest and the abusive tendency of a corrupt few to undermine the hard work, sacrifice, and integrity of the institution,” De Lima said.
She said the short list of candidates for NBI director will be submitted to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
De Lima, NBI Acting Dir. Nonato Ceasar Rojas and Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia led the building’s ceremonial groundbreaking yesterday.
Construction of the P8-million two-story NBI-7 building in sitio Sudlon in barangay Lahug, Cebu City, started yesterday and is expected to be finished in 90 days.
The provincial government of Cebu donated the lot and will spend for the building construction.
The NBI will provide the facilities for the new building.
Meanwhile, Rojas urged the NBI-7 agents “not to let the people of Cebu down.”
“I don’t want any anomalies here. I don’t want any other scandal. I don’t want any irregularities,” he said.
Governor Garcia lauded the NBI-7 for their successful operations and for keeping Cebu safe.
“By working with the NBI, we have ensured the safety of our constituents and the people who come here,” she said.
“The accomplishment of the NBI-7 has never escaped us provincial government officials,” she said.
De Lima said the construction of a new NBI-7 building signifies their presence in Central Visayas.
“The construction of the new NBI building also implies that we are prepared to discharge our duty to meet the challenge and fight criminality in full force. We are entirely aware of the forces of evil that the bureau must face on a daily basis,” she said.
Although the NBI is undermanned, De Lima lauded the NBI-7 for various accomplishments especially in their campaign against human trafficking.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of the NBI-7. I need not enumerate those accomplishments. There are several of them,” she said.
Other than cases of human trafficking, De Lima also discussed reports that some local strongmen are being utilized as private armies.
“This beautiful province does not deserve to be reputed or associated with these issues. It has achieved so much in terms of development. This province holds great promise for helping boost our nation’s economy for tourism and other economic endeavors,” De Lima said.
Also present were NBI Assistant Director Medardo de Lemos, who was the former director of the NBI-7, and NBI-7 Dir. Edward Villarata and Asst. Dir. Lauro Reyes. /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter with Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus