Cotabato City

Missing doctor found dead in Cotabato hospital compound

Rommel Rebollido

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Missing doctor found dead in Cotabato hospital compound
(1st UPDATE) A man surrenders after the doctor's body was found, saying he murdered her after she accused him of stealing

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Police found the remains of a physician who had been missing for days at the Cotabato Regional Medical Center compound on Thursday, July 27.

The physician, Dr. Maria Vicenta Tello, had been missing since Sunday, July 23.

Hours later, a man surrendered to the police and admitted to murdering the doctor.

Nasrudin Endaila said he killed Tello because he resented that she had accused him of stealing funds from the Cotabato City Medical Society, where the murdered doctor served as treasurer.

Endaila, who is not a physician, serves as a secretary in the local medical society.

“It’s better to be slapped than be accused of things you did not do,” he said.

Endaila said he strangled the physician with a plastic cord while she was resting at a conference room, and then buried her at the back of an office near a concrete fence. 

The remains, already in rigor mortis, were found in a shallow grave covered by a pile of wood near the back gate of the hospital compound, according to Colonel Querubin Manalang, chief of the Cotabato City Police.

“The stench from a mound near a back gate led us to the remains,” Manalang told reporters.

Police said a part of the doctor’s remains was wrapped in a garbage bag, with her face to the ground.

Authorities searched the hospital compound after investigators checked CCTV footage and noted that Tello never left.

“We were right all along in our theory that the doctor had not left the hospital premises and considered that the case was not abduction but only a case of a missing person,” Manalang said.

Investigators said CCTV footage showed Tello entering the compound on July 23. 

“With this, we focused our search within the hospital compound and its premises,” Manalang said.

Before Endaila surrendered, police said they already had a suspect in mind while Cotabato Mayor Mohammad Matabalao announced a P300,000 reward for anyone with useful information that could lead to the arrest of a suspect.

Endaila’s surrender also came after retired police brigadier general Agustin Tello, the doctor’s widower, urged the police to investigate one of her wife’s friends who had coffee at their house on Saturday evening, July 22, a day before the physician went missing. The doctor’s friend turned out to be Endaila. –

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