Manila, Jan. 21, 2003 (Tribune) - The Nida Blanca murder case may finally be turned over to a regional trial court by next month.

National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Reynaldo Wycoco said this was what case handlers told him regarding the developments of the case, which is at present pending at the prosecutors' level.

"I understand if it won't be finished by January, it would be finished by February. Our state prosecutors are expected to file by then a case in court to give justice to Blanca," Wycoco said in Pilipino during a radio interview.

Wycoco added if the court finds enough basis, it would issue an arrest warrant for Blanca's controversial husband Rod Lauren Strunk, who is now in the United States.

The NBI charged Strunk with parricide for Blanca's murder, tagging him as the mastermind of the murder. Also charged along with Strunk were Philip Medel Jr. and engineer Vicente Polinar.

"Our people might have thought the NBI has forgotten the case. We filed it on July 17 last year, and it's now in the hands of the prosecution service," Wycoco said.

Probers said fear of being disinherited of up to P65 million prompted Strunk to have Blanca, his estranged wife, killed.

At stake for Strunk was a share in properties that included a White Plains house worth P30 million; a three-story condominium in Greenhills worth P10 million; a 500 sq.m. house and lot in Baguio City; a five-hectare agricultural land in San Mateo, Rizal, and a 2,400-square-foot house in the US valued at $300,000, probers said.

"Once, he was hooked on drugs, Nida had to ask the help of a senator regarding his dependence on drugs, particularly methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu. Nida almost left him for good," they noted.

Three weeks before Blanca was killed, the NBI said, Blanca was so depressed because of Strunk's "uncontrolled spending habits."

The NBI and the Philippine National Police (PNP) described Strunk as an irresponsible and lazy freeloader who was financially dependent on Blanca.

Investigators also pictured Strunk as a "meticulous person" in planning Blanca's murder.

Strunk left for the United States on Jan. 21, 2002.

Wycoco said the NBI would first talk to Strunk's lawyers. "We'll ask his lawyers about their commitment. They promised to make him available once the need arises," he said.

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