National Bureau of Investigation (Philippines)

The National Bureau of Investigation (Filipino: Pambansang Kawanihan ng Pagsisiyasat, abbreviated as NBI)[2] is an agency of the Philippine government under the Department of Justice, responsible for handling and solving major high-profile cases that are in the interest of the nation.

National Bureau of Investigation
Pambansang Kawanihan ng Pagsisiyasat
Agency overview
FormedNovember 13, 1936
Preceding agency
  • Division of Investigation
JurisdictionGovernment of the Philippines
HeadquartersTaft Avenue, Ermita, Manila, Philippines
Efficient law enforcement in the pursuit of truth and justice.
Annual budget₱2.77 billion (2023)[1]
Agency executive
  • Jaime B. Santiago, Director
Parent agencyDepartment of Justice

The NBI was modelled after the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when it was being established.[3]


José Yulo and Manuel L. Quezon, the forefathers of the National Bureau of Investigation, on a 2011 stamp of the Philippines
Signing of an order creating the NBI with President Manuel Roxas and first NBI Director J. Pardo De Tavera

The Division of Investigation, later renamed the National Bureau of Investigation, came into existence on June 19, 1947, the date Republic Act 157 was approved. Its history goes back to November 13, 1936, when a Division of Investigation (DI) under the Department of Justice was created with the enactment of Commonwealth Act No. 181 by the First National Assembly. Section 1, C.A. No. 181 provides:[4]

A Division of Investigation under the Department of Justice is hereby created. It shall be composed of such personnel as may be necessary, in the discretion of the Secretary of Justice, and its duties shall be to help in the detection and prosecution of crimes; to acquire, collect, classify and preserve criminal identification records; and to obtain information on all matters affecting the public interest.

The DI was the brainchild of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon and the then–Secretary of Justice José Yulo.[5] A veteran American police officer, Capt. Thomas Duggan of the New York Police Department (NYPD), and the only Filipino member of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Flaviano Guerrero, were hired by the Philippine government to organize the Division of Investigation of the Department of Justice.[5]

The formation of the DI generated considerable public interest and more than 3,000 applied for the initial 48 positions of NBI Agents. Physical and medical examinations were conducted by doctors from the Philippine General Hospital and San Lazaro Hospital. Of the 3,000 applicants, only 150 were allowed to take the mental test and, of this number, less than 100 passed. After further screening, 48 were certified for employment and of these successful candidates, only 45 actually accepted appointments as Agents.

The DI was then formally organized in 1937 and was composed of forty-five (45) Agents and approximately 100 officials and employees. These included lawyers, doctors, chemists, fingerprint technicians, photographers, research assistants, clerks, stenographers, janitors and messengers. The DI office operated in Manila, where its Agents and technical personnel were dispatched to the provinces from time to time to investigate crimes of public interest or when the necessity arose.

The DI operation was suspended upon the surrender of the Commonwealth Government to the occupying Japanese forces during World War II. The Japanese, however, revived the DI and allowed it to function as a division under the Department of Justice until the establishment of the Japanese puppet Philippine Republic of President José P. Laurel. During the Laurel administration, the DI was merged with the Secret Service Division of the Metropolitan Constabulary (Manila Police Department or MPD) and the Intelligence Unit of the Japanese-run Philippine Constabulary.

Upon the liberation of the Philippines by combined Filipino and American forces in 1945, the DI was not immediately reorganized since most of its original members were seconded in the service of the United States Army Counterintelligence Corps (CIC).[3] After the surrender of Japan in August 1945, the DI was reactivated and the original members were called back to the service. The reactivated DI started with no records or equipment, most of which had been systematically destroyed by DI personnel for security reasons in order to prevent classified documents and equipment from falling into the hands of the Japanese.

In 1947, as the Philippines struggled to recover from the ravages of war, criminality in all its forms increased dramatically, straining the meager resources of the newly reorganized police service in effectively combating sophisticated organized crime groups and the solution of complex crimes. Due to the increase of lawlessness in the land, DI personnel agitated for the conversion of the Division of Investigation into a bureau, believing that an enlarged, highly professional and better equipped bureau similar to that of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation was needed to effectively fight organized crime groups and solve crimes of a complex nature.

In response, Congress filed House Bill No. 1162, from which Republic Act No. 157 originated. R.A. 157 was approved by Congress and enacted into law on June 19, 1947, which renamed DI to the Bureau of Investigation (BI).[5] On October 4, 1947, R.A. 157 was amended by Executive Order No. 94 to change the name from BI to the National Bureau of Investigation.[3]

On June 12, 2023, Medardo de Lemos' term as NBI Director was extended.[6]



The NBI is mandated to investigate/take on the following cases:[7]

  1. Extrajudicial/extra-legal killings by state security forces against media practitioners/activists.
  2. Murders of justices and judges
  3. Violations of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10175)
  4. Cases from the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council
  5. Anti-Dummy Law cases
  6. Human trafficking cases in all Philippine airports
  7. Cases involving threats to security or assaults against the persons of the President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  8. Transnational crimes based on international agreements
  9. Identification of victims of natural disasters
  10. Violations of:
  • the E-Commerce Act of 2000 (Republic Ac No. 8792);
  • the Access Devices Regulations Act of 1998 (Republic Act No. 8484);
  • the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8293);
  • the Securities Regulation Code (Republic Act No. 8799);
  • the Decree Increasing the Penalty for Certain Forms of Estafa (Presidential Decree No. 1689)



Organizational structure

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is a line agency under the Department of Justice and serves as the premier investigative agency of government. The agency director is a Presidential appointee and serves under the trust and confidence of the President and the Secretary of Justice (SOJ).

Each of the seven assistant directors lead a different service within the bureau. Those services are as follows:

  • Investigation Service
  • Intelligence Service
  • Comptroller Service
  • Human Resource and Management Service
  • Forensic and Scientific Research Service
  • Legal Service
  • Information and Communications Technology Service

Positions within the Bureau

On 23 June 2016, Republic Act No. 10867, also known as the "National Bureau of Investigation Reorganization and Modernization Act", was signed by President Aquino. The law provided new titles for the positions within the bureau.[7] They are as follows:

  • Director
  • Deputy Director
  • Assistant Director
  • Regional Director
  • Assistant Regional Director
  • Head Agent
  • Supervising Agent
  • Senior Agent
  • Investigation Agent III
  • Investigation Agent II
  • Investigation Agent I
  • Special Investigator V
  • Special Investigator IV
  • Special Investigator III

NBI Directors

NBI main office at Taft Avenue, Manila
NBI compound in Ermita

Since its establishment, Directors and Officers in Charge either retired, were replaced, or were deceased. The first Director in its history to have been successfully extended is Medardo G. de Lemos. The position of a Director was deemed confidential and co-terminus with the appointing authority. As a result, his term and appointment appeared to be extended despite having reached the compulsory retirement age of 65 years old.[6]

The heads of the NBI since the founding on November 13, 1936, were:

Years Covered Director Notes Appointing president
1936–1939 Capt. Thomas Duggan Former Police Officer, NYPD, Head of the Division of Investigation during its formative years Manuel L. Quezon
1939–1941 Joaquin Pardo de Tavera
1941–1945 N/A Japanese Occupation
1946–1950 Joaquin Pardo de Tavera First Director of the newly renamed and reorganized National Bureau of Investigation Sergio Osmeña
Manuel Roxas
Elpidio Quirino
1951–1954 Gen. Alberto Ramos
1954 Maj. Jose Crisol
Col. Leoncio Tan
1954–1966 Col. Jose Lukban
Ramon Magsaysay
Carlos P. Garcia
Diosdado Macapagal
Ferdinand Marcos
1966 Serafin Fausto Officer in Charge
1967–1986 Jolly R. Bugarin
1986–1989 Jesus Antonio M. Carpio Corazon C. Aquino
1989–1992 Gen. Alfredo S. Lim
1992–1995 Epimaco Velasco Fidel V. Ramos
1995 Antonio D. Aragon Aragon's tenure lasted five days before he died of a heart attack.[8]
1995–1996 Mariano M. Mison
1996–1999 Santiago Y. Toledo
1999–2000 Federico M. Opinion Joseph Estrada
2000–2001 Carlos S. Caabay Officer in Charge
2001–2005 Gen. Reynaldo G. Wycoco Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
2005–2010 Nestor Manrique Mantaring
2010–2012 Magtanggol B. Gatdula Benigno C. Aquino III
2012–2013 Nonnatus Caesar R. Rojas
2013–2014 Medardo G. de Lemos Officer in Charge
2014–2016 Virgilio L. Mendez
2016–2020 Dante A. Gierran Rodrigo Duterte
2020–2022 Eric B. Distor Officer in Charge
2022–2024 Medardo G. de Lemos Bongbong Marcos
2024–present Judge Jaime B. Santiago (Ret.)


  1. ^ E. National Bureau of Investigation
  2. ^ 4 Nat'l Admin. Reg. 38 (1993) Pambansang Kawanihan ng Pagsisiyasat (National Bureau of Investigation)
  3. ^ a b c "Overview | Welcome to National Bureau of Investigation". Archived from the original on September 2, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  4. ^ "C.A. No. 181: An Act Creating a Division of Investigation Under the Department of Justice, Defining its Powers and Duties, and Appropriating the Necessary Funds Therefor". November 13, 1936.
  5. ^ a b c "NBI sees broader law enforcement role". Philippine News Agency.
  6. ^ a b Villeza, Mark Ernest. "Palace extends De Lemos' term as NBI chief". Retrieved July 20, 2023.
  7. ^ a b "R.A. No. 10867: National Bureau of Investigation Reorganization and Modernization Act". June 23, 2016. Archived from the original on July 15, 2018.
  8. ^ Ignacio, Bert (June 24, 1995). "NBI boss, 5 days in job, dies". Manila Standard. Kamahalan Publishing Corp. p. 3. Retrieved June 21, 2023.