CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) on Thursday have accused each other of making false statements in connection with the shooting of Zhydee Cabañelez in Valencia City.
Cabañelez and her husband Ramil are both teachers at Dalit Elementary School in Sitio Dalit, Barangay Lumbayao, Valencia when four armed men went inside the classroom they were in and started shooting at them on Wednesday morning.
While Ramil was unharmed, his wife sustained gunshot wounds on her shoulder and legs. She is now recovering in a medical facility in Valencia.
ACT has raises suspicions regarding the conduct of PNP’s investigation.
“PNP initially reported that Cabañelez is the daughter of an NPA leader in the region, but police narrative has since shifted to NPA being responsible for the shooting incident,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said.
Instead of launching a thorough investigation into the attack, Basilio said, “the PNP has opted to hastily pin it on the NPA however they can, thereby raising serious doubts on the sincerity and credibility of the police to serve justice to [Cabañelez].”
Lt. Col. Surki Sereñas, Valencia City Police chief earlier said Cabañelez’s father is reportedly a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) tasked with collecting revolutionary taxes to quarry operators in the area.
But ACT said that Cabañelez is a member of the organization. But the PNP disputes this.
“The Association of Concerned Teachers or ACT is falsely claiming that the victims are their members to paint a picture that there exists repressive measures against teachers. The truth is both victims are not in any manner connected to ACT,” Sereñas said.
He said the victims are “loyal to the government and are exemplary teachers who have bright future ahead of them.”
Sereñas noted the wife is a national awardee as a multi-grade teacher, while Ramil is doing well as school administrator after having been designated teacher-in-charge of said school.
He added that the school head of Lumbayao has even recommended them to be promoted to being master teachers.
“Their claims are meant to cover up for their (NPA) barbaric acts. The truth is, the police are looking (into) the fact that the attack on the couple may be a reprisal over their loyalty to the government and the ‘surrender,’” Sereñas added.
ACT counters that the PNP needs to focus on investigating the incident instead of making unfounded statements.
In order to avoid similar incidents from occurring, Basilio said ACT is urging the Department of Education to take measures to improve security in schools by employing civilian security personnel.
“DepEd must create items for school security personnel whose main duty is to keep teachers and students safe while at school. Schools must remain to be safe, democratic spaces and zones of peace,” he added.(davaotoday.com)