CEBU City Assistant Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro is quitting the job that she held for 18 years.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu, Castro confirmed her departure from the National Prosecution Service effective April 1, 2017.

“I’m not happy there (City Prosecutor’s Office) anymore,” said Castro, adding that the working environment is “no longer healthy.”

After about 18 years in the government service, Castro said she is now ready to retire and go on a private practice “because I feel like I’m needed in that aspect now.”

“I have to venture into something new because I am what I am. Mary Ann is not Mary Ann without action,” she said.

The prosecutor has been embroiled in several controversies over various alleged infractions in office.

In June 2015, the Supreme Court suspended Castro for six months and a day for wielding “excessive influence” when she asked the police to help her brother who complained about a defective vehicle he bought in 2001.

The SC 2nd Division affirmed the ruling of the Court of Appeals, which found Castro guilty of using her office’s influence to use the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team “for a purely personal matter.”

In 2016, the SC’s Third Division again suspended Castro for six months for filing separate petitions for annulment of marriage in two trial courts in Cebu in 2000.

The SC’s Third Division found her guilty of violating Rule 12.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In an interview, Castro said that being a prosecutor is a tough job. “But in this life, we have this need to grow more and not just be confined in one chapter of life. To venture into another chapter might be risky but life is not life without taking the necessary risk,” said Castro.

God’s plan

She said it was “God’s plan” when she entered the prosecution service.

“So you see everything that God planned has a purpose. Despite the ups and downs in my 18 years in the service, well, it made me as I am now: tough, strong, controversial yet popular. Blessed, but all of this concomitant with a big heart,” said Castro.

Likewise, Castro said she wants to practice law and handle cases in Manila and to be “at par” with high-profile lawyers like Ferdinand Topacio and Raymond Fortun.

She even joked that she is willing to handle the drug cases of her former boss, jailed Sen. Leila de Lima, “if the price is right.”

During her stint as justice secretary, de Lima ordered the filing of administrative charges before the Office of the Ombudsman against Castro over alleged irregularities in the discharge of her duties.