Groups question ‘terrorist’ tag on Doc Naty | Inquirer News

Groups question ‘terrorist’ tag on Doc Naty

/ 05:40 AM February 01, 2023

Dr. Maria Natividad Marian Castro. STORY: Groups question ‘terrorist’ tag on Doc Naty

Dr. Maria Natividad Marian Castro (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — To family and colleagues, community physician Natividad “Doc Naty” Castro had been nothing but a selfless doctor who, despite her stellar credentials, chose to serve the indigenous “lumad” of Mindanao for most of her life.

For this, she faced countless threats and harassment and was arrested last year over charges of alleged kidnapping and serious illegal detention.


So it outraged them to learn that Doc Naty had been designated by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) as a “terrorist individual” in ATC Resolution No. 35 issued only on Monday but actually signed as early as last year.


Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the designation is “the latest attempt by state authorities to harass and intimidate Doc Naty through foul methods that are in clear violation of her right to due process.”

She said Castro, who also once served as Karapatan’s secretary general in Caraga region, is a respected doctor and human rights defender who brought public health programs to far-flung areas in Agusan and Surigao provinces.


House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. France Castro said on Tuesday the ATC’s terrorist tag on the physician was “arbitrary, hasty, one-sided and without due process,” adding that it sets an “alarming precedent.”

Community work

A cum laude zoology graduate of the University of the Philippines, Castro chose to work as a physician at the Community-Based Health Program-Butuan Incorporated, the same group that state forces accuse as being a front for communist rebel recruitment.

Palabay said the designation has no credible and sufficient basis and is “meant to not only threaten and harass her [but to put] her life in danger.”

“With impoverished areas in the countryside in dire need of medical services, health professionals like Castro who have chosen not to join the diaspora of doctors and nurses abroad should be hailed instead of being persecuted,” Palabay said.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said that identifying Castro as a terrorist was “without due process, [with] no evidence provided and no clear standards.”

Reyes said the ATC resolution neither elaborates nor presents proof beyond accusing Castro of being a high official of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, having a hand in training their recruits and managing their funds.

Disturbing pattern

Reyes said Castro’s designation followed a disturbing pattern in which state forces file cases against activists in remote areas without being notified or without proper preliminary investigation.

This includes the case of eight Cordillera activists who were not even informed of a pending case against them and who, therefore, did not undergo preliminary investigation.

“Where is the due process here? Why are prosecutors and judges allowed to proceed with this case when clearly due process was not observed?” he asked.

“Clearly, the intent was to effect their arrest with a nonbailable case before they could contest the charges,” he added.

Reyes called on the Supreme Court to again look into this trend and to “not let this gross violation of due process continue as it is an affront to the rule of law.”

No probable cause

In March last year, Castro walked out of detention after the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court Branch 7 in Agusan del Sur junked the kidnapping charges against her and ruled that the manner of her arrest by the police was “repugnant to [her] right to liberty.”

The court said it found no probable cause against Castro and ordered her release from the Agusan del Sur provincial jail, where she was detained for more than 40 days.

Police raided Castro’s home in San Juan City on Feb. 18 and took her with them, eventually detaining her at the police headquarters of Bayugan City, some 820 kilometers away from Metro Manila.

Without a subpoena, she was arrested through a warrant that contained the names and aliases of 468 suspects. She was not even properly identified in the warrant, which had only listed a certain “Dra. Maria Natividad.”

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She was accused of being involved in the “felonious kidnapping” of a member of a government-armed militia in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur, in 2018.



Gov’t tags community doctor as terrorist

Agusan Court again orders arrest of Doc Naty

Court frees Doc Naty, calls PNP arrest ‘repugnant’

TAGS: Doc Naty, Karapatan, red-tagging, Renato Reyes

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