Red-tagged doctor detained in Agusan Sur – PNP

The National Police disclosed it already transported Dr. Ma. Natividad Marian Castro to Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur, a day after police barged into her home in San Juan City

“After proper documentation and booking procedure upon her arrest in San Juan City on Friday morning, she was immediately flown to Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur where she is presently detained,” Police Brigadier General Roderick Alba, the police public information office chief, said in a statement.

Alba said it already informed the local office of the Commission on Human Rights of her current status. He said Castro was also provided with a hygiene kit, clothes and toiletries upon her request.

Media reports quoting police sources said Castro was a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ central committee and head of its national health bureau based in Barangay Libertad in Butuan City.

“The basis of the arrest of Dr. Castro is a legitimate judicially issued court warrant based on criminal charges against her,” said Undersecretary and NTF ELCAC Spokesperson for Sectoral Concerns Lorraine Marie Badoy in a statement posted on social media.

Caraga police said Castro was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of a member of the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) Active Auxiliary in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur on December 29, 2018.

The Commission on Human Rights has said Castro was “red-tagged” for her work in the communities, including as far as Mindanao, for serving as secretary-general of the human rights group Karapatan in the Caraga Region, and her involvement in bringing members of the Lumad, or tribal, community in Mindanao to bring their concern before the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland.

On Friday, the doctor’s elder brother, Jun, posted on his Facebook account a call for help after the San Juan police “forcibly entered” the doctor’s residence in San Juan and arrested her at about 9:30 am.

He said his sister was accused of “multiple charges of kidnapping and illegal detention, all related to her human rights advocacy,” he said, and insisted these were “all untrue”.

“She is a health worker who has set up community health centers and programs in Mindanao. She is Class ‘82 Grade school valedictorian at Holy Spirit Mendiola, Class ‘86 High school Valedictorian of St. Scholastica in Manila, and was awarded one of the 100 most outstanding graduates of St. Scholastica in the last century (together with Pres. Corazon Aquino) during their Centennial Awards in 2006. She was cum laude in BS Zoology, and graduated from UP PGH College of Medicine in 1995. As a health worker, she has served both rich and poor in various areas in Mindanao”.

“Many years ago, Dr. Naty brought a Lumad (Philippine Indigenous People) who were victims of militarization to UN Geneva. She spoke there, in Geneva, to seek help for the Lumad people.  

The Karapatan also posted an Urgent Alert on its social media account saying the Dr. Castro “was arrested by elements of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines allegedly based on an arrest warrant on trumped up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in Caraga”.

Castro’s batch mates has called on government to dismiss the charges. “These charges filed against her were all related to her work as a doctor and as a human rights and development worker,” the UP College of Medicine Class of 1995 said in a statement.

“The UP College of Medicine Class of 1995 call for the immediate end to the harassment and intimidation tactics that are being used against Dr. Naty Castro and her family. We call for the immediate dismissal of the charges against Dr. Naty Castro and her immediate release from police custody.”

They said Castro is “not an ordinary doctor.”

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