The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has pursued some gamblers, who owed several casino financiers, and members of a gambling syndicate for their possible involvement in the November 7 slaying of actress Nida Blanca, a source told Gulf News.

The NBI has started questioning the people whose names were released by Blanca's fellow actress Gina Pareno, who allegedly owed Blanca and her partners Bong Erana (once known as actress Nenita Vidal), the source said, adding that Blanca, Erana and Pareno were alleged gambling financiers.

Erana died of cancer two weeks before Blanca was killed. Sources said she could have left a huge amount of funds to Blanca, which came from the earnings in lending money to casino players.

At the same time, another source said the trio's other partner was Mike Martinez, believed to be a bagman who used to get funding from other sources.

Self-confessed hired-killer Philip Medel, earlier said that Martinez had contacted him when Blanca's husband Rod Strunk wanted to meet someone for a "mission to kill" a certain Chinese financier.

Martinez went missing after Medel mentioned his name in a testimony before a police division that was tasked to handle the murder case.

Although Medel later recanted his testimonies, adding he was tortured by the police to make his revelations, the NBI continued following some pertinent angles in the still unresolved murder case. Medel is now under NBI custody.

Probers admitted the investigation is slowly veering toward the casino angle, said the source, adding that the NBI is now zeroing in on the possible role of members of a gambling syndicate in the Blanca slay. This could be government officials, military, and policemen.

The NBI has also summoned several Casino Filipino personnel to give vital details about the latest angle being pursued by investigators.

NBI sources who asked not to be identified disclosed the killing may have something to do with the huge amount of trust fund that was reportedly lent by Blanca and Erana to members of a casino-based syndicate. The NBI did not directly say if Blanca and Erana were members of said syndicate.

The NBI said the employees of the Casino Filipino branch in Paranaque City would also be invited at the NBI for questioning.

As this developed, a source said Strunk had revealed during an earlier 13 hour investigation, that he and his wife for 22 years had quarreled several times when he learned that his wife had bequeathed all her property to her only daughter Katherine Jones Torres.