A regional trial court judge in Agusan del Sur has ordered the re-arrest of Dr. Natividad “Naty” Castro, months after the charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention were dismissed, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Wednesday.
In an order dated June 16, Executive Judge Ferdinand Villanueva of the Bayugan City RTC Branch 7 granted the appeal of the prosecution to reverse the decision of Acting Presiding Judge Fernando Fudalan Jr. of the RTC Branch 7 to dismiss the case.
Villanueva’s order stressed that there was no denial of due process since a preliminary investigation was conducted and that the court had acquired jurisdiction over Castro as she was arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest.
“Per court order dated 16 June 2022, an e-warrant of arrest will be issued against accused Dr. Maria Natividad Castro,” the DOJ said, in a statement on Wednesday.
Villanueva reversed the March 25 order of the RTC Branch 7 issued by Fudalan that dismissed the case against Castro on the grounds that there was a denial of her right to due process and a lack of jurisdiction over her.
The case against Castro was filed by Rachelle, the wife of victim Bernabe Salahay, Manuel Anob Masayod and several others against Castro, an alleged active member, recruiter, trainer and fundraiser of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.
The court earlier found that Castro’s constitutional right to due process was violated after she was not furnished a copy of the complaint affidavit and its attachments during the preliminary investigation.
Fudalan said the issuance of a subpoena directing the respondent to submit evidence was the most important aspect of the preliminary investigation that safeguards the right to due process.
However, the executive judge pointed out that a subpoena was issued to Castro.
“As stated in the contested resolution there was no subpoena being issued, this finding of fact is erroneous because, on record attached to the information, a subpoena was issued,” the order read.
“In the order dated March 12, 2019 signed by Investigating Prosecutor Geneses Efren, a subpoena was sent to the respondents, including Dra. Maria Natividad to file their counter affidavit,” it added.
Besides, it said that it found probable cause for the second time to issue a warrant of arrest upon review of the evidence on record.
On January 14, 2019, Rachelle filed a complaint for kidnapping and serious illegal detention before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Augusan del Sur.
On February 18, Castro, who is being linked to communist rebels, was taken into custody by police and military intelligence operatives in San Juan City on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by the RTC Branch 7.
She was released on March 30 after Fudalan dismissed the case.