By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM,
PROGRESSIVE groups condemned the shooting of a public school teacher and her husband inside the classroom in a hinterland village in Valencia City, Bukidnon on Tuesday.
The victim, Zhaydee Cabañelez, is a multi-grade teacher at Dalit Elementary School, a four-classroom learning facility in Sitio Dalit, Barangay Lumbayao, located some 20 kilometers from downtown Valencia.
Still unidentified gunmen shot and wounded Cabañelez while her husband Ramil was shot at but unhurt.
According to Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), Cabañelez is one of its members who has been active in campaigning for the advancement of the welfare of the teachers and of the people.
“Following of months of profiling, red-tagging, vilification, threats, and harassment, ACT sees this as the worst attack yet on the union. 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,” ACT said in a statement released Tuesday night.
The group said the shooting was “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 added it “has and will not cower in the face of vicious repressive measures and increasingly fascists attacks.”
It said it is calling on the Department of Education to exhaust all measures to bring justice to Cabañelez and her family.
“It is our duty as educators to fight for human rights and human lives. We will forward out call of justice side-by-side our call for substantial salary increase as both are fights to defend life which is an utmost duty of educators,” ACT said.
For its part, Karapatan reiterated that “schools should be safe spaces – a declaration repeatedly violated intensified militarization and martial law in Mindanao.”
“We also believe that this attack is targeted, a calculated maneuver to instill fear as part of a series of attacks on progressive organizations, peasant organizers, indigenous rights defenders, and human rights activists in Mindanao, particularly in Bukidnon,” it said.
In 2019 alone, Karapatan said it has documented at least seven cases of extrajudicial killings in Bukidnon which have primarily targeted farmers and indigenous peoples in the provinces.
The human rights watchdog said it stand alongside Cabañelez’s family, “as we hope for her speedy recovery.”
“Karapatan also rallies behind the teachers and people in Bukidnon who are bearing the brunt of this brutal government. We demand justice for this brazen attack, and attribute this to the repressive and fascist policies that justify attacks on members and leaders of progressive organizations,” it added.