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PNP arrests doctor Lumad advocate in San Juan City

A doctor, who is an advocate of Lumad communities in Mindanao, was arrested by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in San Juan City Friday morning, the police said in a report.

In a Facebook post, Jun Castro, brother of the arrested doctor, Natividad Castro, appealed for help and said the charges are "all untrue."

"My sister is accused of multiple charges of kidnapping and illegal detention, all related to her human rights advocacy. ALL UNTRUE," he said.


According to Jun, his sister is a healthcare worker who has set up community health centers and programs in Mindanao.

"As a health worker, she has served both rich and poor in various areas in Mindanao," he said.

"Many years ago, Dr. Naty brought a Lumad (Philippine Indigenous People) who were victims of militarization to UN Geneva. She spoke there, in Geneva, to seek help for the Lumad people," he added.

The 53-year-old health worker was taken into custody by the PNP and Armed Forces intelligence operatives in Barangay San Perfecto on a warrant of  arrest issued on January 30, 2020 by acting presiding judge Fernando Fudalan of the Regional Trial Court Branch 7 of Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur.

Police said Castro is a ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines and facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges.

In a separate Facebook post, the human rights group Karapatan called on the PNP to respect Castro's rights on her access to her family, lawyers and doctors.  It added Castro also has hypertension and diabetes and should be given her medicines.

"Karapatan denounces the arrest of human rights and health worker Dr. Naty Castro as yet another form of attack against human rights defenders. This despicable policy and practice of the Duterte regime of filing trumped up charges against rights defenders in an attempt to silence them should stop," the group said.—LDF, GMA News