By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Following the shooting of a teacher-unionist in Bukidnon, a federation of teachers on Wednesday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to “device mechanisms” to ensure the safety and security of the teachers in schools.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines strongly condemned the shooting of teacher Zhaydee Cabañelez which happened on Tuesday morning during the school’s flag ceremony at Dalet Elementary School in Barangay Lumbayao, Valencia City, Bukidnon.
“We call on DepEd to device mechanisms to ensure the security of the teachers, that they join us in calling for the immediate justice to the victims and to extend financial assistance to the victim,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio told the Manila Bulletin.
Basilio added that the group is currently “completing the details” of the said shooting incident before formally communicating with DepEd. He noted that DepEd is also “conducting debriefing to the students in the school.” While the move of DepEd is commendable, he noted that “there is [still] no security personnel deployed in the school.”
Meanwhile, ACT noted that the family members of the victim also fear for their safety. As relayed by the victim’s husband, Ramil Cabañelez, to ACT, there are “suspicious” people in the hospital where the shot teacher is currently confined.
“We are in communication with the [victim’s] husband,” Basilio said. “As of now, may reported na mga kahina hinalang tao na umaaligid sa ospital nagtatanong sinong mga nasa room,” he added. Aside from their safety, he noted that the family of the victims is also worried about financial issues following the hospitalization. “Bali dalawang paa ni Ma’am [Zhaydee] at kailangan lagyan ng stainless,” he said. The victim has two children, one in Grade 1 and another in Grade 6.
Hands off our teachers!
Meanwhile, ACT decried the recent attack on teachers which it alleged is a reflection of the “wanton disregard for human lives” under the Duterte administration.
ACT National Chairperson Joselyn Martinez, in a statement issued earlier, said that following months of profiling, red-tagging, vilification, threats, and harassment, the group “sees this as the worst attack yet” on the union.
Cabañelez, ACT said, was shot by four masked men – leaving her in critical condition with two gunshot wounds on the chest and two on the feet. The “vicious attack,” the group said, happened in front of several witnesses including school children around.
ACT noted that Cabañelez was the 2016 Outstanding Teacher awardee in her barangay and is also a “vigorous union leader” who has been “campaigning for the advancement of the welfare of teachers and of the people.”
Martinez said that it is “worth noting that this strike comes at a time when teachers have been growing in strength and uniting en masse for a substantial salary increase.” For the group, if the said incident is “an attempt to sow fear among teachers who assert for their rights and to quell the burgeoning fight for decent pay, then we urge the government to pay closer attention to the lessons of history—state fascism only breeds resistance among the people.”
ACT, Martinez said, “has not and will not cower in the face of vicious repressive measures and increasingly fascist attacks” and vowed that it will not let Cabañelez be “just another figure in the growing list of victims of violence, extrajudicial killings, and rights violation of Duterte’s state policy of killing the poor and the masses who are fighting for their rights.”
Meanwhile, ACT also called on DepEd to “exhaust all measures” to bring justice to Cabañelez and her family and challenged the President – who has made “grand claims of his love for teachers as a son of one” – to address the “growingly brazen attacks and worsening impunity in Mindanao since he put it under Martial Law.”