Philippine anti-terrorism law

Gov’t designates as terrorist a community doctor who helped Lumad of Mindanao

Jairo Bolledo

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Gov’t designates as terrorist a community doctor who helped Lumad of Mindanao

ARRESTED. Photo of Dr. Natividad Castro.

Posted by Jose Dalisay on Facebook

(1st UPDATE) Dr. Natividad Castro is facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges – but her family denies all allegations against her

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government’s Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designated community doctor, Dr. Maria Natividad Marian Silva “Naty” Castro, a terrorist under its new resolution publicized on Monday, January 30.

“NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the powers vested on the ATC pursuant to Section 45 of the ATA, and after finding probable cause, the ATC hereby designates Maria Natividad Marian Silva Castro @Doc Naty/Doc Nati/Naty/Nati/Yam/Agi/Kyle/ Prim/Milo as a terrorist individual, for violations of Sections 6, 10 and 12 of the ATA,” ATC’s Resolution No. 35 dated December 7, 2022 read.

According to the council, which can enact the draconian anti-terror law, the community doctor was involved in the planning, training, preparing, and facilitating “the commission of terrorism and recruitment” in support to alleged terrorist organizations.

Castro, who helped in setting up community health centers in Mindanao, was arrested last year in their home in San Juan City. She is among the many respondents of kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed in Agusan del Sur. Her family had already denied the allegations against her.

Even before her arrest, Castro had been red-tagged for her human rights advocacy. Aside from providing health services for the less fortunate, she also served as the secretary general of rights group Karapatan in Caraga region.

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Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, ATC’s chairperson, signed the resolution, along with National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director General Ricardo de Leon. Former National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos, who was ATC’s vice chairperson at that time, has no signature affixed in the document.

What are the grounds?

In its resolution, the ATC listed down three specific reasons why it tagged the community doctor a terrorist:

  • Alleged “active and continuous role” in attaining the mission and objectives of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDF). This is through training allegedly given to NPA and by “actual participation in armed atrocities of the NPA in community-based areas influenced by the NPA.”
  • For being an alleged member of the CPP’s central committee, executive committee member of the Regional White Area Committee, finance officer of the North-Eastern Mindanao Regional Committee, and executive director and trustee of the Community Based Health Program (CBHP). 
  • Alleged “generation, management, and supervision” of CPP’s funds. 

However, aside from denying the government’s allegations, Castro was described by her family as a selfless person because she chose to serve the community. 

While completing her Alternative Residency Program with the Community Medicine Development Foundation, Castro worked as a physician at the CBHP. The group is a consortium of health programs from nongovernmental organizations primarily serving the rural and urban poor areas in the country.

Aside from attending to people’s medical needs, Castro also worked as a human rights worker – she served as a human rights documenter for Karapatan. In 20 years, Castro was also able to build 50 peoples’ organizations and trained thousands of health care workers.

With this, she was able to multiply the health force attending to medical needs of the communities. At one point, Dr. Castro also brought a Lumad representative to the United Nations to help them in their fight against threats and harassment. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.