The regional trial court (RTC) of Bayugan City in Agusan del Sur has reinstated the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against Dr. Maria Natividad “Naty” Castro, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Wednesday, June 22.
In statement, the DOJ’s Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG) said that Executive Judge Ferdinand R. Villanueva granted the motion of the prosecution to reverse the March 25 resolution of RTC Judge Fernando Fudalan Jr. who ruled that Castro was denied her “substantive right to due process” and “for lack of jurisdiction over the person of the accused.”
The OPG said:
“Upon motion of the prosecution, the court, in an Order dated 16 June 2022 issued by the Honorable Executive Judge Ferdinand R. Villanueva, reversed the Order dated 25 March 2022 dismissing the case and found that: (1) there was no denial of due process on the part of accused Dr. Castro as a preliminary investigation was conducted by the prosecution; and (2) the court acquired jurisdiction over the person of accused Dr. Castro as she was arrested by virtue of the warrant of arrest.”
“Per Court Order dated 16 June 2022, an e-warrant of arrest will be issued against accused Dr. Maria Natividad Castro,” it added.
Castro was charged as alleged member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and was reportedly one of the persons involved in the alleged kidnapping and illegal detention of a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in December 2018.
After the DOJ filed the charges before the RTC on Dec. 18, 2019, Castro was arrested last Feb. 18 based on the arrest warrant issued by Judge Fudalan.
Last March, Castro was ordered released after Fudalan granted her motion to dismiss the charges.
The OPG said Judge Villanueva disagreed with the findings of Fudalan.
“Upon personal review/re-evaluation of the evidence on records, including the affidavits of the victim, witnesses and the prosecution’s resolution in the conduct of the Preliminary Investigation and considering the totality of the evidence of records, this court finds Probable Cause for the second time to issue Warrant of Arrest. The findings of this court that there is probable cause is reinstated,” the OPG said quoting from Villanueva’s resolution.
It said Judge Villanueva also disagreed with the claims of Castro that the prosecution violated her constitutional right to due process when she was not informed that a preliminary investigation was conducted against her based on the complaint of Bernabe Baiwasan Salahay.
“The findings of fact by this court that there was no Preliminary Investigation is erroneous. The allegation of the accused through counsel that the name of Dra. Natividad was only inserted and without Preliminary Investigation is without basis. There was a Preliminary Investigation and from the very beginning Dra. Natividad was included,” the OPG said also quoting from the resolution.
It said Villanueva’s resolution cited the Supreme Court’s 1996 ruling which states: “Jurisdiction over the person of an accused is acquired upon either his apprehension, with or without warrant, or his submission to the jurisdiction of the court.”
“Dr. Natividad Castro was arrested on Feb. 18, 2022 and the victim-complainant himself participated in the implementation of the warrant of arrest to be sure of the identity of the accused,” Villanueva’s resolution also pointed out, the OPG said.
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