By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The family of Dr. Natividad Castro is hoping for a quick resolution of her case as the court proceeded with the first hearing in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, March 4.
Colleagues and supporters called for the dismissal of all the charges against Castro, which they said were only based on a warrant of arrest that did not even have her name. They pointed out that the charges “are murky at best, with no notices given to the accused, no preliminary investigation to have the accused a chance to refute any charges and involves more than 500 names with just one address — Sibagat, Agusan.”
Castro’s brother Jun said his sister’s counsel Fred Asis filed a motion for the dismissal of the case.
The prosecutor has requested for a three-day extension to submit a comment on the motion to dismiss despite the 10 days already given him by the judge.
“But upon request of Doctor Naty’s counsel that everyday counts, a date to submit a comment was granted to the prosecutor. The judge told the court that with or without comment from the prosecutor, the case is submitted for resolution,” Jun said.
“We hope for a quick resolution of the case so that Doctor Naty will be set free,” Jun said.
This is also the sentiment of Castro’s colleagues in the health sector.
In a statement, Dr. Darby Santiago said, “While the choice of the presiding judge to resolve the case in due time is understandable and is well within his prerogative, it may also give more time for the State to come up with additional trumped-up charges against Dr. Naty in an effort to keep her in jail.”
On the same day, doctors and rights advocates held a protest in front of the Philippine General Hospital in Manila decrying the continuing detention of Castro.
“Not even a 1,258 kilometer distance from Manila to Bayugan could stop us from demanding for the immediate freedom of Dr. Naty Castro,” said Dr. Edelina dela Paz, one of the co-convenors of the Free Dr. Naty Castro Now! Campaign.
The family of Castro thanked their supporters.
Castro was arrested in her home in San Juan City on Feb. 18. (RTS,RVO)