A human rights activist who have been helping indigenous peoples in Mindanao was arrested by Philippine authorities on Friday, February 18, on charges of “kidnapping and serious illegal detention.”
Dr. Ma. Natividad Marian Castro, a health worker, was arrested by elements of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in San Juan City in the capital Manila.
Castro is a known human rights and health worker in Mindanao, where she helped set up community centers and programs and trained human rights workers for several years.
She had led several fact-finding missions and assisted victims of human rights violations in the region. She is also a national council member of Karapatan.
Castro is a distinguished alumna of St. Scholastica High School in Manila and the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines.
In March 2016, she joined a delegation of human rights defenders in Geneva, Switzerland, to participate in the UN Human Rights Council sessions.
Human rights group Karapatan said Castro was brought to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center and to the PNP Intelligence Group Building inside Camp Crame after her arrest.
“When Karapatan National Office’s team inquired with the said office, we were told that [Castro] is being brought to the airport to be flown to where her cases are pending,” read a Karapatan statement.
The group called on the National Police “to respect the rights of [Castro] with regards to access to her family, lawyers, doctors and paralegals, against interrogation without the presence of her counsel of choice, and access to her medicines.”
Karapatan denounced the arrest, calling it as “another form of attack against human rights defenders.”