By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Kodao Productions/ Bulatlat
MANILA — Human rights group Karapatan welcomed the release of Dr. Natividad “Naty” Castro after an Agusan del Sur Regional Trial Court (RTC) junked the kidnapping charge against the red-tagged community doctor.
The doctor’s family announced she walked out of detention on Wednesday.
“We in Karapatan welcome the release of Dr. Natividad Castro based on the court’s decision on her motion to dismiss,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in a statement.
Castro was arrested at their home in San Juan City last February 18 in a commando-style raid by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police.
Karapatan said Castro was denied due process and her arrest and imprisonment were arbitrary.
Branch 7 of the Bayugan City Regional Trial Court in a March 25 resolution said it found no probable cause against Castro and ordered her release from the Agusan del Sur provincial jail.
“Without probable cause, the court did not acquire jurisdiction over the accused, which warrants the dismissal of this case,” Presiding Judge Fernando Fudalan Jr. said.
Fudalan ruled that Castro was not properly identified in the warrant the police presented to her family during the raid, which only listed a certain “Dra. Maria Natividad.”
“A preliminary investigation without a subpoena being issued to the respondent is offensive to due process. Either intentional or a product of omission, the same produces a serious effect repugnant to respondent’s right to liberty,” Fudalan’s decision read.
Karapatan said the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) “malicious and baseless statements” against the red-tagged community doctor are all lies.
“We extend our hugs of solidarity to Doc Naty and her family, as we enjoin her to continue doing her work as a community health and human rights worker and to exact justice and accountability from those who violated her rights,” Karapatan said.
Castro’s arrest drew widespread condemnation from the medical community that demanded her immediate release.
Castro spent 40 days in jail.