By Chito Chavez
Human rights group Karapatan on Wednesday has strongly condemned the slay attempt on teacher Zhaydee Cabañelez, an active member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)- Region X last Tuesday.
With the incident, Karapatan has scored the worsening attacks against members of progressive organizations.
Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay noted just this month, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) made headlines for staunchly campaigning for a P30,000 base pay for teachers.
She noted “this is among the legitimate campaigns that teacher Zhaydee Cabañelez has demanded, alongside other teacher-members of ACT’’.
Palabay insisted that “no one should be targeted, attacked, or criminalized for supporting these just calls’’.
Since the start of President Duterte’s term, Palabay said profiling and harassment against ACT members and other human rights defenders have intensified.
Karapatan has also reiterated 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 maneuver 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,’’ Palabay said.
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, Palabay said 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,’’ she added.
Karapatan has also rallied 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,’’ the group said.
The group also has called 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,’’ Palabay concluded.