By Arjane Faith Paala

PHOTO: Rappler/Inquirer.Net/PNP

Excusing the arrest of Dr. Maria Natividad Castro after being accused as a communist leader, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the Philippine National Police (PNP) were just doing their jobs.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) chief retorted to protesting human rights advocates and health professionals that there was a judicially issued warrant based on the physician’s alleged criminal charges.

“The PNP was just doing their jobs. Why gang up on them? This was not a warrantless arrest. The RTC (Regional Trial Court) issued a warrant and it’s their duty to serve it,” Año defended San Juan City cops.

He said Acting Presiding Judge Fernando Fundalan of RTC Branch 7 in Bayugan City, Agusan Del Sur already issued an arrest order last January 30, 2020 hence, the doctor’s capture.

Moreover, the police reported Castro is allegedly a high official of the New People’s Army (NPA) Health Bureau and Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) central committee, all while being tangled up in the civilian auxiliary unit member kidnapping case in Sibagat, Agusan Del Sur in December 2018.

Human rights group Karapatan was immediate to debunk the said accusations and explained that she was just a healthcare volunteer for Lumads.

Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) also further stood up for the doctor, to which Año fought back.

According to him, the lawyer groups should have filed an appeal to the Department of Justice (DOJ) or Supreme Court if they had complaints instead of pinning on the police and ‘making a media circus out of this issue.’

“We wish to emphasize that the prosecutor found probable cause against her and resolved to file criminal charges with the RTC. The Presiding Judge also judicially determined that there was probable cause which is why he issued a warrant of arrest so that she can face the charges against her in court,” he reasoned out.

Meanwhile, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles on Tuesday also backed Año through emphasizing that Castro was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest for ‘illegal detention and kidnapping’, further denying allegations of red-tagging towards the doctor.

Edited by Phylline Cristel Calubayan