NIDA BLANCA MURDER: WITNESSES SAY IT'S MEDEL
Metro Manila, July 31, 2002 (STAR) By Christina Mendez and Mike Frialde - The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) presented yesterday two new witnesses whom probers said would bolster the earlier confession of principal suspect Philip Medel Jr. that he killed actress Nida Blanca, Dorothy Jones in real life.
The CIDG said Medelís retraction could have been a part of a "grand design" to prevent investigators from looking deeper into the alleged involvement of a former military official in the case.
In their testimonies, former police Major Pedro Pates and Nilo Gonzaga, said they met Medel several times before the murder of Blanca in November last year.
Both Gonzaga and Pates were known to retired General Galileo Kintanar, former chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), the police said.
Pates and Gonzaga said Medel talked to them about a plan to kill a "showbiz personality," allegedly in exchange for a huge amount of money.
Pates even quoted Medel while he talked on the telephone to a certain Rod and a female caller a number of times at their rented apartment in Kamias, purportedly to coordinate the murder.
"Hi Rob, how are you? Donít worry, time will come. Yaeh, yaeh," said Pates, quoting Medel as telling the other person in the telephone conversation.
At one point, Gonzaga added, Medel asked him if he can hire a "killer to do the job." Gonzaga said he was initially being recruited by Medel just to take part in some surveillance operations. Gonzaga said he felt insulted by Medelís question.
For his part, Pates revealed that Medel asked him if can refer to him a hired killer when they met sometime last year in Medelís rented apartment at 9-3 Sidico Apartment along Kamias Road in Quezon City.
Gonzaga, a security officer, said he was the person who accompanied Medel when he decided to surrender to Immigration Commissioner Andrea Domingo and subsequently to a Chief Inspector Fernandez of the CIDG.
Before Medel recanted his testimony, Gonzaga and Pates were present in a meeting at Kintanarís residence in Quezon City where they overheard a certain military colonel stating that "effective damage control" was then necessary.
The two witnesses, however, refused to say whether that "damage control" included Medelís retraction as well as the mysterious disappearance of prospective witness and businessman Mike Martinez in Parañaque.
CIDG chief Director Nestorio Gualberto said the statements of Pates and Gonzaga would negate the recantation of Medel before the Department of Justice prosecutors.
"We hope that the statements of these witnesses will completely solve the case, prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt against Medel. They will bolster the fact that Medel was telling the truth prior to his retraction," he said.
At the NBI main office in Manila, Director Reynaldo Wycoco said the statements given by the new witnesses have strengthened their case against Strunk and Medel.
"Our strong case is getting stronger. We now have the statement of a new witness attesting to the fact that Medel and Strunk have indeed met before the murder," said Wycoco.
The statements of the witnesses, according to Wycoco, debunked an earlier statement by Strunk that he did not know Medel personally.
Wycoco said that a witness, whom he did not name but said is the 26th to be interviewed by the NBI regarding the case, even wrote about a meeting between Strunk and Medel in a logbook.
Meanwhile, upon the request of Kaye Torres, daughter of the slain actress, Wycoco has urged government prosecutors to set the date for the preliminary investigation of the case at the soonest date.
"She (Torres) is asking that they (prosecutors) set the date for the preliminary investigation of the case as she has still to return to the United States and continue with her work," he said.
According to Wycoco, Torres will testify at the Department of Justice both as a witness and a complainant.
Parricide and murder charges were earlier filed by the NBI before the DOJ against Strunk and Medel. Also charged for murder were a Jane Doe and a John Doe.
Also charged for alleged obstruction of justice were three security guards at the Atlanta Center building identified as Ricky Alvarez, Roberto Cañete and Diolito Molines.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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