A lawyers’ group on Sunday, Feb. 20, refuted the claims by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that Dr. Maria Natividad S. Castro, who was arrested by policemen in San Juan City last Feb. 18, is “a leader of the communist terrorist group.”
“Contrary, however, to what the police have been announcing on their social media pages, Doc Naty is not a communist nor is she a terrorist,” the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) said in a statement.
“She is a health worker who has been helping those who need help most,” said the FLAG as it noted that she has “set up community centers and programs in Mindanao.”
“Dr. Naty helped the Lumads who were victims of militarization by bringing them to the United Nations in Geneva and speaking for them to seek help,” it said.
It also said that Castro has been awarded by St. Scholastica Manila as one of the 100 Most Outstanding Graduates of the school along with late former President Corazon C. Aquino.
It declared that it will “pursue all available legal remedies to secure Doc Naty’s freedom or the immediate dismissal of the case against her.”
“Doc Naty also reserves all her rights to pursue legal remedies against those police officers who violated her rights with impunity and went against established procedure when they took her from her home in San Juan on February 18, 2022, denied her access to counsel and family, and transported her without notifying any family member or counsel,” it said.
“Finally, FLAG will also pursue remedies against those who have red tagged and continue to red tag Dr. Naty,” it added.
It noted that the doctor is currently detained at the police headquarters of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur and has already been visited by her two sisters on Saturday, Feb. 19.
“As the records of the case are still not available to FLAG because the courts are still closed until Monday, FLAG and Doc Naty are still unaware of the exact circumstances of the case that has allegedly been filed against her and the reason for her arrest,” it said.
The PNP said that Castro was arrested based on the arrest warrant issued by the regional trial court (RTC) in Agusan del Sur. She was accused of alleged involvement in the reported kidnapping of a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Dec. 2018.