THE Valencia City Police Office said on Thursday, October 17, that the teacher who was shot inside the classroom is not a member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), contrary to what the teachers’ group earlier said.
Valencia City Police chief Lieutenant Colonel Surki Sereñas said ACT is falsely claiming that the victims, Zhydee Cabañelez and her husband Ramil, are their members “to paint a picture that there exists repressive measures against the teachers”.
But he said, both victims are not, in any manner, connected to ACT.
“The victims are loyal to the government and are exemplary teachers who have bright future ahead of them,” Sereñas said.
Sereñas added that teacher Zhydee is a national awardee as a multi-grade teacher while Ramil is doing well as a school administrator after being designated as teacher in-charge of Dalit Elementary School.
They were even recommended to be promoted as master teachers, and that “there is no way they would be affiliated with the left-leaning organization and criticize the government”.
“ACT’s claims are meant to cover up for the barbaric acts of their armed component. The truth is, the police are looking at the fact that the attack on the couple is a backlash of their loyalty to the government, not to mention the ‘surrender’ of the victim’s father, Zaldy Bitago, to the AFP,” he said.
The police chief also said the New People’s Army (NPA) is the primary suspect of the shooting incident.
He said the couple’s involvement in the government is likely the reason behind the shooting.
Serenas said teacher Zhydee is the daughter of Zaldy Bitago, an alleged member of the Guerilla Front-6, North Central Mindanao Regional Command of the NPA.
Cabañelez was about to start her class when shot by the gunmen around 8 a.m.
Aside from Cabañelez, her husband Ramil, 34, and seven pupils were inside the classroom at the time of the shooting but her husband was able to escape the attack.
Cabañelez survived the shooting and is now stable.
The teachers group earlier condemned what it called the worst attack on its union “as it comes at a time when teachers have been growing in strength for a salary increase.”