Press Release
October 16, 2019

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, +639189790580


32-year-old teacher Zhaydee Cabañelez, an active member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers – Region X, survives after being shot on the chest and feet by four armed masked men in Dalit Elementary School, Valencia City, Bukidnon, 8 a.m. on October 15, 2019 . The victim was shot inside a classroom in the said school. As of this writing, Karapatan is still ascertaining further details on teacher Zhaydee’s current condition and state of recovery.

Zhaydee Cabanelez.jpg
(Photo: Zhaydee Cabañelez from ACT Region X)

Karapatan strongly condemns this targeted attack against Cabañelez amid the worsening attacks against members of progressive organizations. Just this October, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) made headlines for staunchly campaigning for a PhP30,000 base pay for teachers. This is among the legitimate campaigns that teacher Zhaydee Cabañelez has demanded, alongside other teacher-members of ACT. No one should be targeted, attacked, or criminalized for supporting these just calls. Since the start of Duterte’s term, profiling and harassment against members of ACT and other human rights defenders have intensified.

(Photo: Zhaydee recovering at the hospital. Photo from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Region X)

Likewise, we reiterate that schools should be safe spaces — a declaration repeatedly violated under intensified militarization and martial law in Mindanao. We also believe that this attack is targeted, a calculated manuever to instill fear as part of a series of attacks on progressive organizations, peasant organizers, indigenous rights defenders, and human rights activists in Mindanao, particularly in Bukidnon.

In 2019 alone, Karapatan has documented at least seven cases of extrajudicial killings in Bukidnon which have primarily targeted farmers and indigenous peoples in the province.

Along with the recent arrests in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte and closure of Lumad schools, these attacks only show the worsening human rights crisis under continued implementation of martial law in Mindanao, alongside counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan.

We stand alongside the family of teacher Zhaydee Cabañelez, as we hope for her speedy recovery. Karapatan also rallies behind the teachers and people in Bukidnon who are bearing the brunt of this brutal government. We demand justice for this brazen attack, and attribute this to the repressive and fascist policies that justify attacks on members and leaders of progressive organizations. Likewise, Karapatan calls for the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao and the withdrawal of counterinsurgency programs which facilitate, enable, and systematize these attacks. We demand an end to all draconian, anti-people policies of the Duterte regime which have only resulted in bloodshed and widespread impunity.


Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146