By Erwin M. Mascariñas
Butuan City — A women’s rights group denounced the arrest of one of its members calling it a “misogynistic” move of the Army’s 402nd Infantry Brigade.
In a statement issued yesterday, Atel Hijos, Gabriela Women’s Party secretary general, condemned the arrest of their volunteer Nerita de Castro based on what they claimed to trumped-up charges.
“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,” Hijos said.
On May 31, at around 1:00 pm, personnel of the Police Regional Office 13 and soldiers of the 402IB arrested de Castro in Emenville Subdivision, Barangay Ambago, this city. The warrant of arrest for the criminal case number 18-3304 for murder was issued by Judge Lilibeth Ladaga at the Regional Trial Court 11, Judicial Branch 28, of Lianga, Surigao del Sur on March 13.
“This is a form of harassment, we believe that the arrest is based on made-up offenses and trumped-up charges and accusing an ordinary citizen and defender of women’s rights of crimes that she did not commit,” said Hijos.
Hijos accused the authorities of denying de Castro of a legal counsel while being interrogated.
“Despite her constant demand for a lawyer while being interrogated, she was denied her right to be accompanied by a counsel,” added Hijos.
Captain Al Anthony B. Pueblas, Civil-Military Operations Officer of the Army’s 402IB accused de Castro as the new finance officer of the New People’s Army.
However, Hijos denied this allegation.
“De Castro is a small businesswoman who devoted part of her time towards the promotion of women’s rights in Caraga. She has been a volunteer of GWP since 2006,” said Hijos.
Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Tandag City who claimed to have to met de Castro several times in relation to human rights work questioned the charge of murder against de Castro.
“This is a frightening scenario. We now see the systemic targeting of people who are helping communities fight for their rights,” said Villasanta.
Other names included in the warrant of arrest that was served to de Castro are, Rizaldy Sumunod, Tulong Wagdos, someone known as Jing or Ado, Bernard Suazo, Raul Salas, Vicente Consigna, Nilo Camino, Anlonia Sellas-Dizon, Bello Sinzo, Jr., Bernilito Crido, and Ombid Sinzo.