To Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra
28 October 2019
Dear Mr Menardo Guevarra
Our organisation wishes to express its deep concern at the shooting of a respected
teacher and union leader Ms Zhaydee Cabanelez on 15 October this year. It is reported that around 8.00 am in the morning four masked gunmen shot her six times in front of school children in Dalit Elementary School in Valencia City, Bukidnon, Mindanao. The gunmen also fired at her husband Ramil Cabanelez but did not manage to hit him.
Ms Cabanelez won the Department of Education’s Outstanding Teacher Award in
2016. Both she and her husband are active members of their union the Association of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
We understand that Ms Cabanelez is currently in hospital in intensive care, but has been refused any contact with relatives or friends by the Philippines military. Instead of investigating this assassination attempt, the police seem to be focussed on falsely labelling Ms Cabanelez as a communist and keeping her isolated.
ACT reports that its members have suffered an increased level of police profiling in the last few months. The police are labelling its members as communist. Such redtagging can often lead to someone being targeted by a death squad. The attempted murder of Zhaydee and Ramil Cabanelez came not long after World Teachers Day on 5 October when thousands of teachers marched for an increase in basic pay.
We call on the Government of the Philippines to investigate the attempted
assassination of Zhaydee and Ramil Cabanelez and to bring the perpetrators to justice. We call for an end to the harassment and death threats to members of the teachers’ union and other trade unions. We also call for an end to the state of martial law in the Philippines and the impunity under which the police and military are able to commit extra judicial killings.
Secretary, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (UK)