Karapatan asks PNP: where is Dr. Naty Castro?

From the left: Michelle Campos, Karapatan Secretary Geenral Cristina Palabay, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst, and Dr. Maria Natividad “Naty” Castro

Following her arrest yesterday, February 18, 2022 in San Juan City, the family of community health and human rights worker Dr. Maria Natividad “Naty” Castro has been unable to access nor contact her. As of writing, they have not received any updates regarding her actual whereabouts — let alone her welfare.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) Intelligence Group told Karapatan’s quick reaction team yesterday that she was no longer in Camp Crame and was already being brought to the airport to be flown to Butuan City, Agusan del Norte to face the trumped-up charges against her.

Details regarding her supposed flight, however, were not given by the police, and there is still no certainty as to where Dr. Naty was brought or is being held. There are also no public updates from the Facebook page of the Police Regional Office 13 in Caraga on her whereabouts. Her family is being kept in the dark regarding her situation.

We therefore ask the PNP: where is Dr. Naty? We demand the PNP to make public the whereabouts and welfare of Dr. Naty.

We also strongly remind the PNP that continuing to hold Dr. Naty incommunicado is a grave violation of her rights as a person detained and/or under custodial investigation as outlined under Republic Act No. 7438. Dr. Naty should be immediately given access by her family, her legal counsels and medical doctors of choice — especially since she has hypertension and diabetes — as well as spiritual advisers and human rights organizations.

Karapatan stands with Dr. Naty’s family in condemning her arrest and in asserting that these charges filed against her are fabricated clearly with the intent to vilify her and her human rights work. We reiterate our call to junk the trumped-up charges against Dr. Naty and to free her now!

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General