By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan assailed the terrorist designation of red-tagged community doctor Natividad Castro per the Anti-Terrorism Council Resolution No. 35.
The resolution, dated December 7, 2022, stated that based on evidence they have supposedly gathered “there is probable cause” warranting the designation of Castro as a terrorist individual violating sections 6, 10, and 12 of the Anti-Terror Act of 2020.
Rights group Karapatan, however, asserted that this designation is “baseless and malicious.”
“This is the latest in the ATC’s exercise of broad arbitrary powers, in clear violation of Doc Naty’s right to due process,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Castro was first arrested in their home in San Juan City last February 2022 for allegedly being a ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines. She was then slapped with trumped-up kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges.
In March 2022, an Agusan del Sur Regional Trial Court junked the charges and said that the case was “without probable cause” since the prosecution failed to procure evidence to prove Castro’s identity to be the one being accused in the warrant.
Castro was able to walk out of detention after spending 40 days in jail.
Read: Rights group hails community doctor Naty Castro’s release
However, last June 2022, the court reversed the initial dismissal of charges after state prosecutors filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that there should not be an issue with probable cause since Castro was mentioned and named in the affidavit of the supposed victim.
Castro is a known community doctor, and an advocate for human rights, as well as the struggles of the Lumad in Northeastern Mindanao. For more than two decades, Castro dedicated her time to serving poor communities in Mindanao.
Critics of the country’s terror law have long assailed what they called the undue powers given to the ATC, such as the power to designate persons or groups as terrorists and extend a suspect’s detention beyond what the Constitution provides even without charges.
Read: ‘Freed Naty Castro, the doctor who treated social ills’
“It is meant to not only threaten and harass her– it is meant to place her life in danger.” (RTS, JJE)