Zhydee Bitago Cabañelez, an elementary teacher at Dalit Elementary School in Valencia City, Bukidnon was shot at, by four motorcycle-riding assailants, in front of her class on Oct. 15.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) has called for an exhaustive investigation on the recent shooting of a public school teacher in Valencia, Bukidnon.
In a statement, DepEd has called on “authorities to conduct an exhaustive investigation of the gruesome incident and expects results that will bring the perpetrators to justice,” adding that it “sternly enjoins the community, local officials, and law enforcement agencies to work closely in ensuring the safety of schools, learners, and teachers.”
Zhydee Bitago Cabañelez, an elementary teacher at Dalit Elementary School in Valencia City, Bukidnon was shot at, by four motorcycle-riding assailants, in front of her class on Oct. 15 and sustained several gunshot wounds, according to the DepEd’s statement. Her husband, Ramil Cabañelez, also a teacher in the same school, was also shot at but managed to escape.
ACT Teachers Partylist reported that nine bullets from a .45-caliber pistol were recovered from the crime scene.
Cabañelez is now in a stable condition.
The shooting of the Cabañelez couple came after months of vilification, threats, and harassment against teachers who are pushing for substantial salary increase, said the Alliance of Concerned Teachers. Cabañelez, an active member of ACT, has been advocating for increased pay and better working conditions for public school teachers in Bukidnon.
After a big protest action during the World Teacher’s Day, President Rodrigo Duterte promised yet again to increase teacher’s pay – P5,000 more than the P30,000 that they have been calling for.
“The assailants may be faceless and nameless, but no other entity is responsible for the violence against our teachers except this administration,” said ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, adding that the red-tagging has put progressive organizations and its members as “targets of its counterinsurgency program.”
The local DepEd office, the statement read, has been given instructions to submit complete incident reports and obtain investigation reports from authorities.
However, alternative news Kilab Multimedia reported that the local ACT in Bukidnon assailed the police investigation for losing its credibility over their “flip-flopping” statements. The group said the police first claimed that Cabañelez was shot at because her father was a member of the New People’s Army. Later, the police said that it was the NPA who carried out the shooting incident.
“It appears to be an unabashed attempt to exploit this horrific incident to propagandize and serve their counterinsurgency agenda,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio.
DepEd, meanwhile, said students, parents and teachers have already been stress debriefed a day after the shooting incident. Cabañelez, on the other hand, will also be provided with psychological first aid as soon as possible.