Agusan Court again orders arrest of Doc Naty
MANILA, Philippines — The Bayugan, Agusan del Sur Regional Trial Court has ordered the arrest of Dr. Maria Natividad Castro, or Doc Naty, following a reversal of a March 2022 ruling that dismisses the criminal case filed against her.
Dr. Castro, a human rights and public health advocate, was arrested on Feb. 18, 2022 on charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. In March, the case against her was dismissed on two grounds — denial of her “substantive right” to due process and lack of jurisdiction over the doctor.
State prosecutors filed a motion for reconsideration, prompting the court to take another look at the case. In an order dated June 16 issued by Executive Judge Ferdinand R. Villanueva, it reversed the March 25, 2022 order that dismissed the case against the doctor.
In a briefer issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ), it noted that the March 2022 order was reversed on the following grounds: 1. there was no denial of due process because a preliminary investigation was conducted; and 2. for lack of jurisdiction over the person of accused.
The court said that contrary to claims that no preliminary investigation was conducted prior to the filing of the case in court, records showed that one was conducted but a summons was not served on her.
“If the accused/respondents cannot be summoned, it does not mean that Preliminary Investigation will be held in abeyance. The rule is clear that the prosecution will resolve the complaint on the basis of the evidence presented,” the court said in its order.
The court also took note of the complainant’s claim that the doctor is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).
It added that the victim himself executed an affidavit and participated in the previous arrest of Dr. Castro.
Although the case against Dr. Castro was previously dismissed, the court said double jeopardy cannot yet attach. Double jeopardy means a person cannot be prosecuted for the same offense twice.
“Based on court records, Dra. Castro was not yet arraigned thus double jeopardy will not apply,” the court added.
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