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MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday, February 22, denied that red-tagging was the reason behind the arrest of advocate and doctor Natividad “Naty” Castro over alleged kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that the Department of the Interior and Local Government assured Malacañang that law enforcement “did everything by the book” in relation to Castro’s case.
“Una sa lahat, hindi po yun dahil sa quote-unquote sinasabing ‘red tagging’ (First of all, this is not what they call quote-unquote ‘red-tagging’). If you look at the facts of the case, the arrest was made by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by a regional trial court for serious illegal detention and kidnapping,” Nograles said in response to a question from media.
Castro was a health worker who helped the Lumad set up community health centers in Mindanao.
Nograles maintained that Castro’s lawyers were given opportunities to make objections from preliminary investigation to the findings of the prosecutor. He said that all legal remedies were available to Castro and her lawyers.
This, despite the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) opening a motu propio investigation into possible irregularities in relation to Castro’s arrest. The CHR said it received reports indicating possible violations from the Philippine National Police (PNP) on rules of procedure, among other issues.
Castro’s lawyers earlier said they were denied information and documents related to her case.
Members of Castro’s family also cried foul over how authorities took her from her San Juan City home on Friday, February 18. Dr. Naty’s younger sister Menchi said members of the raiding team “were like robbers” when they barged into the Castro family’s home, saying they “had the right to do anything they wanted.” Menchi said the police pushed her around and hurt her.
Nograles asserted, with conviction, on Tuesday that “all authorities involved in the case maintain that all legal protocols and procedures were followed.”
The controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) claimed that Castro was a central committee member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CCP-NPA-NDF). The PNP said that her alleged “membership” in the CPP is not the basis of her arrest, “but her alleged criminal actions that constitute participation in a case of kidnapping with serious illegal detention.”
Several rights groups condemned the arrest of Castro, calling for her release and saying she was another victim of the government’s red-tagging.
Castro is the latest human rights advocate arrested since President Rodrigo Duterte intensified his administration’s crackdown against progressive individuals. – Rappler.com