Man accused of killing, robbing teacher arrested in Minglanilla; used friend’s name to hide from authorities

A 40-YEAR-OLD man accused of robbing and killing a teacher in Leyte Province was finally arrested after 13 years of hiding.

Montre Buit Respecia, a native of Barangay Poblacion, Mahaplag town in Leyte, was arrested after police officers found him hiding in Barangay Poblacion Ward 1 in the southern town of Minglanilla, Cebu on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 22, 2022.

Respecia, an openly gay man, was reportedly using the name of his colleague in the church choir to hide from authorities.

Karla Belandres Guardiana, the church choir member that Respecia used as a cover, sought SunStar Cebu’s help after she read about the suspect’s arrest on social media.

Maj. Philip John Libres, chief of the Opao Police Station in Mandaue City, said they arrested Respecia based on a warrant issued by Judge Clinton Nuevo of the Regional Trial Court 8 in Baybay, Leyte on July 2011.

Libres said that Respecia is facing a robbery with homicide case for allegedly killing and robbing his teacher while he was still in high school in 2009.

Libres said they initially were able to trace Respecia based on information provided by their colleagues in Mahaplag, Leyte that he was living in Minglanilla.

Libres told SunStar Cebu that to verify Respecia’s identity, he sent one of their assets to determine the suspect’s location.

When the asset was able to confirm Respecia’s identity and whereabouts, Libres immediately contacted their colleagues in Leyte.

Operatives from Mahaplag immediately traveled to Cebu with the court’s warrant to arrest Respecia.

At 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Respecia was set to ride a motorcycle when he was cornered by Libres and his police officers.

Libres said Respecia initially denied that he was the one stated in the warrant, but eventually admitted when police operatives from Mahaplag held a video call with the family of the suspect’s victim.

Respecia reportedly requested police to not handcuff him as he did not want to be embarrassed.

Libres said Respecia was able to evade arrest for so long as he was using Guardiana’s name on his Facebook page.

Possible identity theft

Guardiana, who visited SunStar Cebu’s office on Friday, Sept. 23, to clear her name, said she was surprised that her name came out in the report on Respecia’s arrest.

Guardiana admitted that she knew Respecia as they were both members of their local parish choir. They were also living in the same barangay.

Guardiana said she heard from neighbors that Respecia had reportedly transferred to their barangay after encountering a “problem” in his hometown. But Respecia never divulged what that problem was.

She admitted that she was worried when her name came out on social media reports about Respecia’s arrest and immediately called SunStar Cebu to clear her name.

Libres, who also visited SunStar Cebu’s office on Friday, also explained to Guardiana that they had no ill intent to publish her name.

But Libres feared that Respecia may have used Guardiana’s name in several transactions.

Libres said that based on a follow-up investigation, they were able to determine that Guardiana was reportedly doing illegal activities such as faking government documents for a price.

Police also found out that Guardiana was able to put up a house even though he had no clear work.