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Anti-Terrorism Council designates Dr. Naty Castro a terrorist

The Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) on Monday announced its designation of community physician Dr. Natividad "Naty" Castro as a “terrorist individual” in a resolution.

“Verified information, sworn statements, and other evidence gathered by Philippine law enforcement and security agencies, affirmed that [Castro] violated Sections 6, 10, and 12 of the [Anti-Terrorism Act],” the ATC said in a statement, adding that it approved Castro's designation in Resolution No. 35 on December 7, 2022.

Castro, a physician and a longtime advocate for Lumad and poor communities in Mindanao, was arrested in February 2022 and on kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges. A court junked the charges a month later and she was released.

Several health groups and human rights organizations have decried Castro's arrest.

"Dra. Naty had been red-tagged for her work as a human rights and development worker. Before the pandemic hit the country in 2020, Castro initiated several health programs in Mindanao. She also brought members of the Lumad community before the United Nations in Geneva to seek help against harassment in their areas. She also once served as secretary general of rights group Karapatan in Caraga region," the Commission on Human Rights said.

The UP College of Medicine also defended its alumna. “[Castro] has become a staunch human rights defender, specifically of the lumads and indigenous communities whom she has been attending to all these years. She is practicing what the UP has envisioned its graduates to be—community oriented using the primary health care approach intended for the underserved,” it said after her arrest.

The ATC accused Castro of being involved in the Communist Party of the Philippines' (CPP) supposed goal to seize political power.

According to ATC, this goal involves violent means through facilitating terrorism, recruitment, and providing material support to terrorist organizations.

GMA News Online has reached out to Castro's family for comment.

Al Khobar group

The ATC also announced the designation of Al Khobar Group as a terrorist group under the ATC Resolution No. 36, also dated December 7, 2022.

According to ATC, the group was created from a dismantled team operating under the Special Operations Group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the early 2000s.

“Verified information supported by sworn statements of witnesses and other evidence gathered by Philippine law enforcement and security agencies warrant the designation of the Al Khobar in violation of Section 4 of the ATA for extortion, bomb threats, arson, and bombings of public transport in Central Mindanao from January 2021 to November 2022 that killed and injured numerous individuals and caused extensive damage to properties,” the ATC said. — BM, GMA Integrated News