OFFICIALS of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) disclosed that the Nida Blanca murder case still lacks a star witness to finally resolve the three-year-old case.
The NBI assessment came as the family and friends of the late movie icon commemorate Sunday the death anniversary of Blanca.
NBI investigators handling the sensational case said authorities are still looking for a vital witness who can identify who masterminded the murder.
“The NBI really needs a star witness with the likes of Jessica Alfaro in the Vizconde massacre case, which we resolved owing to her credible statement,” an NBI agent said.
Officials admitted that the witnesses they have presented for the extradition of Blanca’s husband and principal suspect Rod Lauren Strunk were not compelling enough.
“We have to admit that we did not have quality witnesses to implicate Strunk. That was aside from the supposed inconsistencies that the US judge found in our first extradition bid,” said a senior NBI official privy to the case.
The official said that aside from the testimonies of former Blanca’s aide Elena de la Paz and suspected hired killer Philip Medel Jr., there was no other witness to bolster the case against Strunk.
Blanca was found stabbed and brutalized inside her green Nissan Sentra at the parking area of the Atlanta Center building in San Juan on November 7, 2001.
Investigators charged Strunk as the mastermind after theorizing that he plotted her murder when she threatened to disinherit him.
However, Strunk managed to leave the country for the US in January 2002, claiming he wanted to visit his ailing mother, who has since died.
Medel had admitted to being hired by Strunk to kill Blanca, but retracted his statement and claimed the police tortured him into owning up to the crime.
Despite this, he was eventually charged as a principal suspect in the murder in July 2002, and is now detained at the NBI headquarters in Manila.
De la Paz, who served as Blanca’s secretary for several years, had flunked a lie-detector test after she insisted she did not know anything about the crime.
Investigators theorized that de la Paz could have been trying to wrest powers of attorney to act in behalf of Blanca regarding her insurance policy and other assets.
In November 2003, US Judge Gregory Hallows junked the Philippine government’s bid for Strunk’s extradition after claiming the justification submitted to his office had full of loopholes.
One of the loopholes involved “financial assistance” for Medel, which indicated that Medel could have been paid by authorities to own up to the crime.
The NBI cried foul, saying it smacked of racism on the part of the US where it protects its own citizens. Strunk is an American citizen.
Since then, the justice department and the NBI have been working with Blanca’s lawyers to hammer out a second extradition request for Strunk.
“In the absence of physical evidence, what we need now is a witness who can give a statement that is compelling enough to bolster our case for Strunk’s extradition. That’s the bottom line,” said the NBI source.