Gordon appeals to uphold human rights for detained doctor
Senator Richard J. Gordon expressed grave anxiety and deep concern over the continuing disappearance of Dr. Maria Natividad Castro. Castro, a cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and St. Scholastica High School-Manila valedictorian, was reportedly arrested by San Juan Philippine National Police (PNP) elements on February 18 by authority of a supposed Warrant of Arrest issued by an Agusan del Sur Regional Trial Court (RTC) for alleged kidnapping and serious illegal detention. It was also reported that Castro has, up until now, not been presented in public, has not been made available by the PNP for family visit or consultation with counsel of her own choice. Gordon, who authored and sponsored Republic Act No. 9851 or An Act Defining and Penalizing Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity, said that Castro’s incommunicado status violates the Constitution which states that “(2) No torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will shall be used against him. Secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited.” “The talents of people like Castro, a brilliant and humane physician, whose activities included setting up community centers and trainings on human rights are what are sorely needed by our country, especially in these pandemic times,” said Gordon. He furthered that if the charges are true, for the sake of argument, Castro is still protected by our Constitution and laws which presumes innocence, which allows consultation with family and/or lawyers, and which prohibits secret detention places, among others. “I urge Secretary of Justice Menardo Guevarra and Chief PNP Dionardo Carlos to look seriously into this matter and ensure that this continuing violation of the Constitution and Dr. Carlos’ rights cease immediately,” Gordon stated.