Metro Manila, June 26, 2002 (STAR) A supposed witness has been calling the daughter of slain actress Nida Blanca demanding financial assistance, a move which family lawyer and former Sandiganbayan Justice Harriet Demetriou branded as "extortion."

In her letter to Director Reynaldo Wycoco of the National Bureau of Investigation, Demetriou said a certain Omar, whom the NBI chief said could provide vital information on the case, has been calling Kay Torres in her Quezon City residence.

"This Omar has been incessantly calling my client’s residence in White Plains and demanding from her monetary assistance for himself and his family in exchange for a supposed valuable information," she said in her three-page letter.

Demetriou, who called on Justice Secretary Hernando Perez yesterday, said that she advised Torres against giving the caller anything. "I have advised my client not to give in to such kind of demand as it is equivalent to extortion."

She told reporters Torres was "impatient" with the way the NBI is handling its probe, "especially now that she’s back in Manila and gave up her job in Los Angeles just to see through the case."

For his part, Perez assured Blanca’s family that the DOJ, which supervises the NBI, "will do our best to determine the perpetrator and if the evidence is solid enough, then charges will be filed."

Eight months since the November 2001 Blanca murder in Greenhills, Demetriou lamented that "nothing has happened so far" despite the NBI’s pronouncements that the suspects will soon be brought to the bars of justice.

"The case has not moved positively forward. No one has been charged in court. Even (Rod) Strunk (Blanca’s husband who was the suspected mastermind) had left the country last January," she said.

Even the NBI’s own statements that Blanca, named Dorothy Jones in real life, may have been involved in the controversial Jose Velarde account of jailed ex-President Estrada, a colleague in the showbiz industry, yielded negative results.

Demetriou said she made bank inquiries with regard to the two checks issued by Velarde to Jones for P150 million and P50 million, but records showed none. She added Equitable-PCIBank is even "willing to issue a certification as to its non-existence." — Delon Porcalla

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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