HomeNewsRights groups welcome court decision to release ‘red-tagged’ doctor

Rights groups welcome court decision to release ‘red-tagged’ doctor

Rights group Karapatan said the court’s decision noted that the doctor has been denied due process when she was arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned

Human rights groups welcomed a court decision released this week dismissing the charges filed against medical doctor Natividad Castro who was earlier tagged by government security forces as having links with the underground communist movement.

In a statement, rights group Karapatan said the court’s decision noted that the doctor has been denied due process when she was arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned.

“This proves that the [National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict]’s “malicious and baseless statements against our red-tagged colleague and community doctor are all lies,” said Karapatan.

The NTF-ELCAC is a task force organized by the government supposedly to respond and raise awareness on the ongoing communist insurgency in the country.

Castro was released from detention on Wednesday, March 30.

She was taken into custody by police and military intelligence operatives in San Juan City on February 18 on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by a judge in the southern Philippines.

Police accused Castro of being a ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and was charged with kidnapping and “serious illegal detention.”

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She was flown to Bayugan City in Mindanao and was brought to the city’s police station. She was later ordered transferred to the Agusan del Sur Provincial Jail.

The ecumenical youth group Student Christian Movement of the Philippines welcomed the court decision, saying the dismissal of the cases against Castro “only proves that NTF-ELCAC is a waste of every Filipino’s time and energy.”

Kej Andres, SCMP spokesperson, said the government body “has only functioned like a kangaroo court that terror-tags innocent and unarmed individuals.”

The “Task Force Free Sally Ujano” also welcomed the release of Castro, expressing hope that long-time child and women’s rights advocate, Ma. Salome “Sally” Ujano, will also be set free.

Ujano was arrested by authorities three months before the arrest of Castro “similarly based on fabricated charges,” said the group.

“The arbitrary arrest and detention of advocates merely working for the welfare of the most vulnerable of us must stop,” said the group in a statement.

“Continuing this wayward campaign to crush civil society will only curtail critically important work of the country’s best and brightest,” it said, adding that the government action “sends a chilling message that the same could happen to anyone, even to those who only want to help.”

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