By Yas D. Ocampo
Davao City – The Gabriela Women’s Party has accused the government of “red-tagging” one of its members as a New People’s Army (NPA) amazon, when she is actually just a small-time businesswoman and a human rights advocate.
In a statement, Gabriela-Caraga said the arrest of Nerita De Castro last week by the military was a “misogynistic move” meant to silence all those who are critical of the Duterte government. It also said the suspect has been its member since 2006.
“The arrest is meant to sow fear among the people of Caraga who dare to expose and criticize President Duterte and his military and police’s misogynistic and anti-people actions,” the women’s rights group said.
De Castro was arrested by combined elements of the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Davao and Caraga, and the 402nd Infantry Battalion in Emenville Subdivision, Barangay Ambago, Butuan City last May 31.
Gabriela charged that De Castro’s arrest was made based on a “trumped-up murder charge filed in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.”
The group also said De Castro was denied her right to counsel and access to her family after she was arrested.
“Despite her constant demand for a lawyer while being interrogated, she was denied her right to be accompanied by counsel when questioned by state agents,” the statement said.
The group tagged the CIDG, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), and Caraga Philippine National Police as liable for the illegal arrest of De Castro.
It also said the military erred in announcing that De Castro was a high-ranking member of the NPA as finance officer of the Komisyon sa Mindanao and the secretary of the Regional White Area Committee of the Northeastern Mindanao Region.
“She is a human rights advocate, working fulltime first with the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) during the 1980’s under Marcos’ Martial law when her brother was tortured by the military, and for Karapatan-Surigao del Sur during the 1990’s until around 2006 when she focused on her small buy and sell business for her children’s education,” the groupe said.