The Department of Education (DepEd) reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring teachers’ safety and well-being and maintaining schools as zones of peace.
This after the shooting of Zhydee Bitago Cabañelez, an elementary teacher at the Dalit Elementary School in Valencia City, Bukidnon on October 15.
Some four unidentified armed men attacked Cabañelez and her husband, Ramil, with the pupils still inside her classroom at around 8 a.m.
The husband managed to escape while the victim sustained serious physical injuries.
In a statement via viber, DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla and officer-in-charge Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Alberto Escobarte, during a meeting with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers at the DepEd Central Office, said the victims would be provided with financial assistance.
“Sa ngayon nakapagbigay na po tayo nang financial assistance (sa mga biktima). (We have already given financial assistance [to the victims]. We were able to give it through voluntary contributions to their family),” Sevilla added.
Meanwhile, Escobarte assured that the victims are entitled to rehabilitation leave with pay which is subject to extension, on top of the statutory benefits from Government Service Insurance System and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
“The barangay leaders committed to assign civilian volunteer organizations (CVO), purok leaders, and barangay tanod to serve as security officers during school hours. The community people have become more aware and are escorting the teachers in coming to school and going home up to the boundary of the barangay,” Escobarte said.
He added there could be higher penalties against the perpetrators since the direct assault was committed against persons in authority on official duty.
The Schools Division Office of Valencia City coordinated with the local authorities for added security.
Sevilla reported that the learners, teachers, and parents involved in the incident already received psychological first-aid through stress debriefing. Classes in the school will resume next week.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones earlier issued a statement strongly condemning the crime and called on the Philippine National Police to resolve the case and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We continue to reiterate our call to various stakeholders 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,” Briones said. (PNA)