Activist doctor accused of kidnapping now detained in Agusan del Sur
MANILA, Philippines — A doctor and a human rights advocate accused of kidnapping with serious illegal detention is now being detained in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported on Saturday.
In a statement, the PNP said Maria Natividad Castro, 53, was detained in the area to be presented before the Regional Trial Court Branch 7 of Bayugan City after the warrant of arrest issued by Fernando Fudalan, the acting presiding judge of the said court.
“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,” the PNP said.
Police alleged that Castro was a member of Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) central committee and head of the New People’s Army’s National Health Bureau. They also accused Castro of being involved in the kidnapping of a member of Civilian Active Auxiliary, detained the victim in an unidentified location, and threatened him in December 29, 2018, in Barangay Kolambungan, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.
However, the PNP pointed out: “Her membership with the local communist movement is not the basis of her arrest, but her alleged criminal actions that constitute participation in a case of kidnapping with serious illegal detention.”
The arrest of Castro received a torrent of condemnation from different human rights organizations and other groups.
‘Unlawful and unjust’
Meanwhile, the CPP on Saturday called Castro’s arrest and detention “unlawful and unjust.”
“The Party adds its voice to the immediate demand of human rights organizations, colleagues and friends of Dr. Castro for her immediate release and dropping of all trumped-up charges against her,” said CPP spokesperson Marco Valbuena in a statement.
Valbuena, in response to allegations that Castro is a “top official” of the CPP, said: ”Military red-tagging against human rights defenders is nothing new and has been repeatedly used by state forces to justify its campaign of extrajudicial killings, illegal arrest, and non-stop harassment against progressive social activists who have been critical of Duterte’s tyrannical reign.”
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