A court in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur has reissued a warrant of arrest against Dr. Maria Natividad “Naty” Castro, according to a press briefer released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, June 22.
Dr. Naty Castro, a human rights advocate and a health worker, was arrested on February 18 on charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, which human rights group Karapatan called “another form of attack against human rights defenders.”
“This despicable policy and practice of the Duterte regime of filing trumped up charges against rights defenders in an attempt to silence them should stop,” Kaparatan said on February 18.
The case against Dr. Naty and others were filed and heard before the Branch 7 of the Regional Trial Court of Agusan del Sur, and was dismissed the following month by presiding Judge Fernando Fudalan Jr. for denial of the right to due process of Dr. Naty, and the court’s lack of jurisdiction over her.
State prosecutors filed a motion for reconsideration, and in a court order dated June 16, Judge Ferdinand R. Villanueva reversed the dismissal order, saying that “there was no denial of due process on the part of accused Dr. Castro,” and that the court had already acquired jurisdiction over Dr. Naty “as she was arrested by virtue of the warrant of arrest.”
Moreover, according to the DOJ’s briefer, a preliminary investigation was done before the filing of the case in court, albeit Dr. Naty was not given any summons during the course of the preliminary investigation.
Meanwhile, the DOJ, without proof or substantial evidence, even lent credence to the claim that Dr. Naty was “an alleged active member, recruiter, trainer and fundraiser of the Communist Party of the Philippines–New Peoples’ Army–National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).”
An e-warrant of arrest will be issued against Dr. Naty.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.
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