DepEd: Northern Mindanao office now probing attack vs Bukidnon teachers
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) has assured the public that its regional office in Northern Mindanao is now investigating the cause of attacks against two teachers in Valencia City, Bukidnon province.
DepEd said in a statement on Thursday that aside from the investigation, the regional office also met with other stakeholders in the area to safeguard other teachers from the Dalit Elementary School.
It was reported on Tuesday that four gunmen entered the school and shot teacher Zhydee Cabañelez and her husband, Ramil, inside the classroom with seven pupils still inside. Zhydee sustained various gunshot wounds while Ramil managed to evade the shooters.
“Education Secretary Leonor Briones instructed DepEd Regional Office X and the Schools Division Office of Valencia City to submit complete incident reports and to obtain investigation reports from the authorities,” DepEd said.
“During coordination meeting, the Barangay and Sitio leaders committed to assign CVO (civilian volunteers organization) and purok leaders to serve as security officers during school hours. They will also accompany teachers in coming to school and going home at least until the Pulangi River,” it added.
Zhydee is now under stable condition, and will be provided with psychological aid, DepEd said. Students who witnessed the attack meanwhile will be debriefed by social workers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Authorities are recently looking at several motives for the attacks, including one that involves communist rebels from the New People’s Army (NPA). The local police chief said that the attackers looked for Zhydee’s husband after introducing themselves as people from “the mountains.”
Schools division superintendent of Valencia Dr. Victoria Gazo also said that they are verifying reports that Zhydee’s father was once a member of the NPA.
DepEd, for its part, has condemned the attack and called on for a quick probe to give the couple justice.
“DepEd sternly enjoins the community, local officials, and law enforcement agencies to work closely in ensuring the safety of schools, learners, and teachers,” Briones said.
The statements of DepEd were made after Secretary Briones was urged by ACT Teachers party-list to speak up and stand against the attacks in Bukidnon.
“We have yet to hear any word, plan or assistance for the couple from the Department of Education,” Rep. France Castro said. “Secretary Briones, please speak up and defend your teacher, defend the couple who were gunned down by “riding in tandem” that are DDS or death squad members who attack schools.”
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