VOLUNTARY SURRENDER. Richard Gepte (center), 51, of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental was met by police personnel in the compounds of the Carmelite Monastery in Barangay Camaman-an, Cagayan de Oro City, following his surrender on Sunday (Jan. 23, 2022). The suspect has a warrant of arrest for allegedly masterminding the killing of Dr. Raul Winston Andutan, a hospital executive in the same city on Dec. 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy of COCPO)

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The alleged mastermind of the killing of a hospital chief in this city last month has voluntarily surrendered in a monastery, the police here said in a statement Monday.

Richard Gepte, 51, of Balingoan, Misamis Oriental was met by joint units of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (COCPO) and Police Regional Office (PRO-10) in the compounds of the Carmelite Monastery in Barangay Camaman-an here.

Maj. Evan Viñas, the COCPO spokesperson, said the suspect’s surrender took place on Sunday.

Gepte, who is running for vice-mayor of his hometown, was suspected to be the brains behind the ambush-slay of Dr. Raul Winston Andutan, chief of the Maria Reyna-Xavier University Hospital, after allegedly hiring assassins to kill the latter on December 2, 2021.

Viñas said personnel from the city’s Police Station 9, led by Maj. Allan Cariel, handed the arrest warrant to Gepte, which was issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 21 Judge Gil Bollozos for charges of murder without bail.

"The same signifies his (Gepte) intention to voluntarily surrender to the authority to be assisted by his counsel, Atty. (lawyer) Syvan Sabio, knowing that he has a standing warrant of arrest," the statement said.

Last year, a day after Andutan's death, the Misamis Oriental provincial police was able to capture in a hot-pursuit operation the suspected hitmen who were identified as Marjun Abayon Cabug, 39, of San Antonio, Don Carlos, Bukidnon; together with Joel Arcilla Nacua, of Lilingayon, Valencia City, Bukidnon, as the alleged triggerman, and Jomar Pacilan Adlao, 30, of Dulugan, Maramag, Bukidnon.

A certain Rene Turtosa, who contacted the three for the job, remains at large.

In a separate statement, Brig. Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., PRO-10 director, said the surrender of Gepte in connection with Andutan’s case is a manifestation of the persistent effort of the police force.

"The surrender of Mr. Richard Gepte can be credited to the strong police-community partnership. The active support of the community is one of the effective channels to solve and prevent crimes in the community," he said. (PNA)