Where is Dr. Naty Castro? Rights Advocate, Barrio Doctor is Arrested

CHR, volunteer lawyers, colleagues raise alarm.
Photo/s: Karapatan

(UPDATE) A doctor and human rights defender was arrested by police Friday on what advocates said were trumped up kidnapping charges as they demanded authorities to disclose here whereabouts.

Natividad Marian "Naty" Castro was apprehended at her home in San Juan City on the strength of an arrest warrant from the Caraga region, where she served as regional secretary general of human rights group Karapatan, said the organization's national secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Authorities scaled the wall of Castro's home, destroyed their front door and dragged her shoeless, according to her high school classmates, who quoted her family.

Castro's relatives were not given access to her since her arrest, said Free Legal Assistance Group national chairman Chel Diokno, a senatorial candidate. She was brought to Camp Crame police national headquarters, from which she was supposedly set to be flow to Butuan City.

Diokno said it could not be proven whether Castro was on the Manila to Butuan flight. The doctor was also not allowed to take her maintenance medicines for hypertension and diabetes since she was denied access to her sister.

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Where is Dr. Naty?

The FLAG demanded that the PNP within 24 hours grant lawyers and family access to Castro and that her whereabouts be revealed or else the group would file appropriate charges.

The Commission on Human Rights said Castro was "red-tagged" for her work as a human rights and development worker. The CHR expressed "grave concern" over her detention and said it would investigate.

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Karapatan said it "denounces the arrest of human rights and health worker Dr. Naty Castro as yet another form of attack against human rights defenders."

Michel Forst, a former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders who had worked with Castro said he was "more than worried" over her arrest.

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In 2016, Castro attended the UN Human Rights council sessions in Geneva, Switzerland, according to Karapatan. There, she discussed the plight of Lumad communities in the Caraga region.

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Who is Dr. Naty?

Castro finished high school at St. Scholastica's Collegez BS Zoology at UP Diliman and earned her medical degree at the UP College of Medicine.

She dedicated her life in service of the poor, from serving as doctor to the barrios to advocating for the Lumads in the UN, the St. Scholastica High School batch of 1986 said.

"Naty is brilliant and brave. Truly our valedictorian. Truly the best of our lot," the group said.

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Castro's classmates at UP also issued a statement of support.

"Naty is not an ordinary doctor. She is a servant leader actively involved in health and human rights and working towards providing health care for all by serving in rural and geographically isolated areas," the UP College of Medicine batch of 1995 said.

"Maagang namulat si Naty. Marami sa amin, naghahabol. Si Naty, nangunguna. 'Payak na pamumuhay. Masikhay na pakikibaka at paglilingkod' ang mga katangiang araw-araw isinabuhay ni Naty," they said.

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