Activist community

Judicial Junk Kidnapping Case Against Community Physician Activist

Castro is now back in the NCR after more than a month held in Agusan del Sur

MANILA – A Bayugan City Court has dismissed the charge of kidnapping and serious unlawful detention against community physician and activist Dr. Natividad Castro.

In a resolution dated March 25, Acting Presiding Judge Fernando Fudalan, Jr. of Section 7 of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court dismissed the charge based on a violation of due process and the absence of probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest.

He ordered the immediate release of Castro, who arrived in Metro Manila on Wednesday after being held for more than a month in Agusan del Sur, his sister Menchi told ABS-CBN News.

Judge Fudalan cited two grounds in the case of Junking Castro.

First, prosecutors failed to issue a subpoena for the preliminary investigation into his case, violating his right to due process.

“The issuance of a subpoena requiring the defendant to submit evidence is the most important aspect of the preliminary investigation that protects the right to due process. No reason, such as that raised by the charge that the respondent is a member of the NPA and has no permanent address, would ever justify his non-issuance,” the judge said.

The Philippine National Police, in a press release in February, claimed that Castro was a high-ranking member of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines and that he was the head of the CPP-NPA’s national health office based in Butuan City.

Her family has denied the allegations, saying she is a doctor for the masses.

Castro, 53, worked as a community doctor in Agusan and later served as a civil servant with the rights group Karapatan in the Caraga region.

The Bayugan court also reviewed the records of the preliminary investigation and found that she was not mentioned in the original complaint and was simply added to the supplemental complaint.

His identity and participation in the abduction and detention of a certain Bernabe Salahay, allegedly a member of the Civilian Active Auxiliary of the Philippine Army in December 2018, was also not sufficiently alleged, according to the court. .

The court also noted that the “thug gallery” on which Salahay based his identification of Castro was not submitted to the court with the information or the criminal charge.

“In light of the aforementioned factual findings gathered during the reassessment, the court concludes that probable cause does not exist in the absence of evidence to prove the identity of the accused and therefore decides to reverse the previous findings of probable cause”, he mentioned.

“Without probable cause, the court did not acquire jurisdiction over the accused, which justifies dismissing this case,” he added.

Castro was arrested on February 18 at her family’s home in San Juan on the basis of a January 2020 kidnapping warrant issued by a court in Bayugan.

She was brought to Bayugan City via Davao and throughout that time she was not allowed to call her family or lawyer or access to medication, her family said.

His attorney challenged his arrest, filing a motion to dismiss which the court treated as a motion to quash.

In addition to attacking the absence of a preliminary investigation, a preliminary step to filing a criminal complaint in court, his lawyer Wilfred Asis also questioned how a person could identify the doctor among more of 460 respondents.

Prior to Castro’s arrest, KARAPATAN said she was red-tagged, with her photo tagged as a member of the CPP-NPA in a Facebook post in November 2020 and in a tarp in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Karapatan on Wednesday welcomed Castro’s release.

“She was denied due process when she was arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned – and this has been acknowledged by the court. are all lies,” he said in a statement.

“We send our hugs of solidarity to Doc Naty and his family, as we urge him to continue to do his work as a community health and human rights worker and to demand justice and accountability from those who violated his rights,” he added.

Since his arrest, various groups have called for Castro’s release, including his former colleagues at the University of the Philippines Philippine General Hospital.