NIDA MURDER: LONG-TIME ASSISTANT TO TESTIFY THAT NIDA, ROD FOUGHT OVER MONEY
Metro Manila, August 9, 2002 (STAR) The long-time assistant of murdered actress Nida Blanca appeared at the office of the National Bureau of Investigation yesterday to submit additional information regarding the case.
Elena dela Paz, told reporters that she came to the NBI to help investigators shed light on the case as the Department of Justice starts the preliminary investigation on Monday. She told reporters that Blanca, Dorothy Jones in real life, and primary suspect Rod Strunk had several quarrels over finances.
She said that the quarrels started in 1996 when Blanca sold her real estate property in San Mateo, Rizal to purchase a house in the United States for her daughter Kaye Torres.
"He (Strunk) wanted that his name be included in the title of the house to be bought in the United States," Dela Paz said. Blanca turned down his request, Dela Paz added.
Dela Paz even recalled Blanca as saying that she planned to divorce Strunk if the spat over finances continued.
"She (Blanca) told me that it would be easy for her to seek a divorce (from Strunk) if she got fed up," Dela Paz said.
According to Dela Paz, Blanca uttered the statement as they were driving from the actress’ house in White Plains Subdivision along EDSA going to Timog Avenue last year or two years ago.
Dela Paz, who was Blanca’s personal assistant for 40 years, told reporters that it was only recently that she was able to recall other details about the case.
According to Dela Paz, Strunk could not handle money, even as he went to the United States at least once a year to visit his children from a previous marriage. She also described Strunk as a "big spender."
Dela Paz added that on the night of Nov. 6 when Blanca failed to return home, she approached Strunk who appeared to be "unconcerned."
Strunk, according to Dela Paz, later admitted having gone to the Atlanta Center in San Juan on the night of the actress’ murder but said he did not find Blanca inside her green Nissan Sentra car, which was parked at the 6th floor of the building. Dela Paz said Strunk returned home from Atlanta Center at about 3 a.m. on Nov. 7.
When she asked Strunk why he did not open Blanca’s car to look inside despite having a duplicate key. Dela Paz said Strunk told her that the key to the car was attached to the key of his Nissan Vanette.
Strunk, said Dela Paz, told her that he could not remove the keys from the Vanette as the lights of the van was turned on and trained on the actress’ car.
As these developed, four television news reporters also appeared at the NBI National Capital Region office to give their statements regarding the case.
The reporters, Karen Davila and Connie Sison, both of ABS-CBN Channel 2; and Mariz Umali and Jessica Soho, both of GMA Channel 7; were invited by the NBI as they were able to interview Philip Medel, one of the primary suspects in the case, shortly after he appeared for questioning at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
According to an NBI agent, Davila could be a vital witness in the case as she saw Medel when he was being quizzed by the CIDG.
The agent said Davila saw how freely Medel gestured and described to CIDG chief Nestorio Gualberto how he allegedly stabbed Blanca dead and even uttered the phrase "Ikaw lalaki, binubuhay kita! Pinapalamun kita!", as allegedly said by Blanca to Strunk at the crime scene.
The phrase caught the attention of the NBI as the phrase was commonly uttered by Blanca whenever she had a tussle with Strunk, according to Dela Paz.
"What Davila saw could mean that Medel was not tortured when he gave his statement to the CIDG. It could also mean that Medel was really present at the scene when Blanca was killed," said the NBI agent. – Mike Frialde
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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