The public school teacher-couple who were shot inside the campus of an elementary school in Valencia City, Bukidnon denied on Saturday their involvement or membership in the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) party-list.
Zhydee Cabañelez, 32, and Ramel Cabañelez, 35, both teachers at Dalit Elementary School in Sitio Dalit, Barangay Lumbayao in Valencia City, Bukidnon were shot by four unidentified attackers on board two motorcycles in the morning of Oct. 15.
Zhydee sustained multiple gunshot wounds while Ramel was unscathed during the shooting.
In an interview with Ramel on Saturday, he denied their involvement in ACT and clarified that it was only in 2016 that they attended an orientation organized by the group.
“We were given a memorandum by the division office ordering us to attend the ACT orientation. I did not recall signing any membership form from ACT that time. We were only there to listen while they discuss matters that will be beneficial for the teachers,” Ramel told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
He also clarified that they have only signed the attendance during the event but did not become members of the group.
Ramel remained clueless about the real motive of the perpetrators saying, “I don’t see any reasons why they want to kill us.”
He said they do not have any enemies at work and community.
“I keep on asking the investigators if they already have a lead. But right now everything is still hanging,” he said.
Ramel, however, admitted that he was bothered when the gunmen said, “taga bukid mi” (We’re from the mountains).
“They said they were from the mountains, but they don’t look like members of the New People’s Army (NPA),” he added.
Authorities are also verifying the involvement of Zhaydee’s father, Zaldy, a member of the NPA in Northern Mindanao based in Bukidnon.
“My father-in-law is no longer active in the armed group. In fact, he joined the Kasama Bukidnon, a group which is active in providing seeds and fertilizers to the farmers,” Ramel said.
Meanwhile, the Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday condemned the attempt on the lives of the couple, urging authorities to do an “exhaustive investigation” on the incident.
In a statement, DepEd called for justice and enjoined the community, local officials, and law enforcement agencies to work closely in ensuring the safety of schools, learners, and teachers.
On the other hand, Dr. Victoria Gazo, Schools Division Superintendent of Valencia City, clarified that the couple is loved by their community and reiterated that they are not members of ACT.
“I even asked their co-teachers and supervisor about it. They are certain that they are not involved in the organization. Based on their performance, they are just silent workers and plain teachers,” Gazo added.
She assured that the students, parents, and teachers will be given psychosocial interventions and stress debriefing.
Gazo said the DepEd central office vowed to give PHP100,000 for the hospitalization of Zhaydee while the regional office will give PHP37,000.
She said the division office handed PHP20,000 on Thursday to the couple.
Gazo said their office is processing the rehabilitation leave of six months with pay to Zhydee and sick leave with pay for Ramel.
“We will be pulling out all the teachers in Dalit Elementary School and replace them with a new set of teachers who will serve the community,” she added. (PNA)
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