MANILA - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said Wednesday it has identified 4 "persons of interest" in the killing of former Court of Appeals Justice Normandie Pizarro, who was recently confirmed to be the man found dead in Capas, Tarlac in October.
"We found them to be possible suspects or either witnesses later on," NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin told ANC's "Matters of Fact."
Among these persons of interest is a man who was last seen together with Pizarro in a security footage at a hotel and casino in Clark, Pampanga on Oct. 23, he said.
The man, which Lavin described to be "in his senior years," reportedly owed the former justice money ranging from P100,000 to P200,000. The two met at a casino in August.
Lavin said the man was "very cooperative" with the NBI but was found to have given conflicting statements during investigation.
"Mayroon pa siyang fear, alanganin pa siya (He still has fear, he's still hesitant)... He's holding back, he's not telling all.. If we compare the pieces of evidence we gathered on the ground, medyo duda kami (we are suspicious) because some of the information can't be validated," he said.
The other "persons of interest" the NBI is pursuing is a godfather of one of Pizarro's children, the godfather's acquaintance, and a woman close to the ex-justice, Lavin said.
"We are looking at practically all the angles... and we're not discounting the possibility that 2 or 3 or all of persons of interest may have conspired to kill the justice," he added.
Pizarro's body was recovered in Capas town on Oct. 30, a week after he went missing. As his cadaver had already deteriorated, the NBI forensics team just recently confirmed the former magistrate's identity through DNA test.
The retired justice was shot in the back of his ear and the bullet exited in the upper left of his head, Lavin said. Pizarro's right hand was also chopped off and his fingers in the left hand were cut off, he added.
"We have not been able to establish whether he was shot first or if his hands were cut off first because when we accessed the cadaver it was already deteriorating," the NBI official said.
Pizarro retired February 2018, a year ahead of his mandatory retirement.
He became controversial after dismissing the murder case against former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, who was accused of killing Palawan-based environmentalist and radio host Dr. Gerry Ortega.
The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the ruling and reinstated the murder charge in November 2019.
Pizarro also acquitted "pork barrel queen" Janet Lim Napoles of serious illegal detention based on reasonable doubt in May 2017, and rejected a Hawaiian court ruling awarding $2 billion in compensation to Martial Law victims.
The Supreme Court in April 2018 fined Pizarro P100,000 for conduct unbecoming of a member of the judiciary over instances of gambling in a casino.