MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (PIA) — The Department of Education (DepEd) and village officials assured learners’ parents in Sitio Dalit, Lumbayao, Valencia City that they are closely coordinating with local officials to tighten up security to ensure the safety of the school, learners, and teachers.
This, after an attempted slay of Zhydee Bitago Cabañelez, a teacher at Dalit Elementary School, on 15 October 2019.
Schools division superintendent of Valencia Dr. Victoria Gazo said that the Barangay and Sitio leaders committed to assign Civilian Volunteers’ Organization or CVO and zone leaders to serve as security officers during school hours.
“During coordination meeting, I requested barangay officials to help in resolving issues on some teachers’ reluctance to continue serving in the school because of fear after the shooting incident. If all the teachers will no longer serve in Dalit Elementary School, parents will be forced to send their children to the nearest school, which is the Lumbayao Elementary School. If this happens, it would be very risky for the children to commute due to the rolling terrain and the pupils’ daily crossing in Pulangui River,” she said.
While teacher Zhydee will be on rehabilitation leave for six months with pay—so with her husband Ramel on sick leave—I need to deploy teachers from outside of Sitio Dalit, she further said.
The security officers, Gazo said, commit to escort the teachers in “coming to school and going home daily” at least up to Pulangui River. These were the arrangements made because we cannot sacrifice children’s education for fear and anxiety, she added.
Media reports said that Zhydee Cabañelez and husband Ramel were with the pupils in the classroom when unidentified masked men barged in at about eight o’clock in the morning and shot Zhydee. Ramil escaped unhurt.
In the commotion that followed, the motorcycle-riding gunmen fled the scene.
The blooded Zhydee with gunshot wounds, believed to be that of a caliber .45 pistol, was seriously injured.
Zhydee was taken to a hospital in Valencia City by folks. She is recuperating at press time as Valencia City police chief Surki Sereñas provides her security at the hospital.
Gazo said DepEd Northern Mindanao gave P37,000 cash assistance, while DepEd central office allotted P100,000 financial aid. The local government of Valencia also committed to shoulder part of the hospital’s surgical bill.
Issuing a statement, Education Secretary Leonor Briones condemned the shooting of teacher Zhydee in front of her students.
She instructed DepEd Regional Office 10 and the Schools Division Office of Valencia City to submit complete incident reports and to obtain investigation reports from the authorities.
DepEd Northern Mindanao is now probing the said attack against Bukidnon teachers.
Briones underscored anew the DepEd’s strong commitment to maintain the neutrality of schools as zones of peace, to ensure that learners and teachers are in an environment conducive to learning and free from harm. (RLRB, PIA Bukidnon)