Dr. Maria Natividad Castro (Courtesy of PNP)

MANILA – Authorities will accompany to Butuan City the doctor arrested in San Juan City on Friday morning for kidnapping and serious illegal detention and identified as a Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) official.

However, no details have been released yet on the transfer of Maria Natividad Castro, 53, who was nabbed in Barangay San Perfecto based on a warrant of arrest issued on Jan. 30, 2020 by Fernando Fudalan of the Regional Trial Court Branch 7 of Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.

No bail was recommended for Castro (alias Yam/Agi/Kyle/Prim), No. 7 regional level communist terrorist group (CTG) priority target and head of the National Health Bureau of the CPP-New People’s Army (NPA) based in Barangay Libertad, Butuan City, according to the Police Regional Office in Caraga (PRO-13).

Castro was allegedly involved in the felonious kidnapping of a member of the Civilian Active Auxiliary (CAA), detained the victim in an unidentified location, and threatened him on Dec. 29, 2018, in Barangay Kolambungan, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.

The CAA supports the regular forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in dealing with security threats.

“The arrest of Castro marks another CTG setback and its inevitable demise. Their bloody, merciless plans have never succeeded. They have always been a failure and a disgrace to every Caraganon,” PRO-13 Regional Director, Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr., said in a statement released Friday.

The arresting team included members of the Regional Intelligence Division (RID)-13, Philippine National Police (PNP) Intelligence Group, RID National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO)c, 401st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, 3rd Special Forces Battalion, 41 Military Intelligence Company, Joint Task Force-NCR, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency-NCR, and San Juan City police.

“I congratulate our personnel who have been conducting surveillance and intelligence gathering making it possible to bring the suspect before the court to stand trial in accord with legal proceedings,” said PNP chief, Gen. Dionardo Carlos, in another statement on Friday.

No decision yet

The Department of Health (DOH) said Castro is innocent until proven guilty.

In a Laging Handa public briefing on Saturday, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that the DOH recognizes the efforts of health care workers and doctors who help the marginalized get access to services.

"Lahat naman po tayo would be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, so antayin lang natin 'yong proseso na sinasagawa ngayon para makita natin kung ano ang kalalabasan (We know that a person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise, so let's just wait for the process to be completed)," she said. "Ito po ay isa lamang po na gusto naming iparating (This a message that we want to convey), that we value and we recognize the efforts of our health care workers like Dr. Naty.”

CTG-linked groups like Kabataan party-list, Karapatan and Kilusang Mayo Uno, in statements released after the incident, claimed Castro is a mere health care worker and human rights advocate serving the public.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has dispatched a quick response team in NCR and Caraga and is undertaking a motu propio investigation on possible PNP violations of the rules of procedure, among other issues, according to a statement on Saturday.

"In ensuring the protection of the rights of the Dra. Naty, CHR is coordinating with local authorities and is in close contact with the Castro family to assist them in Dra. Naty’s safety while in custody," the CHR said.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)