Bayan Muna coordinator in GenSan shot dead

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/March 13) – A leader of a local transport cooperative and coordinator of the Bayan Muna party group was injured in a Sunday morning gun attack outside his home in a village in ‘here.

Larry Barnuevo Villegas, 64, chairman of the Rajah Buayan Transport Cooperative, was cleaning his tricycle at his home in Purok 1, Barangay Buayan, after 6 a.m. when he was shot dead by an unidentified gunman on a motorbike, according to a police report.

The victim, who suffered two gunshot wounds to the leg, is being treated at Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital, run by the city government.

Investigators from the municipal police station number 3 recovered two empty cartridges from a 9 mm caliber handgun at the scene.

Bayan Socsksargen coordinator Sonia Eugenio said in a phone interview that Villegas was clearly the target of the attack.

“It appeared to be blows to the head, but he managed to bend over and was hit in the leg,” she said, citing testimony from the victim’s family.

At 2 p.m., she said Villegas was conscious and would be operated on that day for his gunshot wounds.

She said the family is currently coordinating with the city police office to investigate and secure the victim.

Eugenio said the Villegas shooting could be part of ongoing “coordinated attacks” on militants in the country.

She said the victim was at the forefront of the campaign against rising oil prices and leading local preparations for the nationally coordinated transport strike on March 15.

Villegas, a known leader of the progressive transport group here, is the municipal coordinator of Bayan Muna and also chairs the Integrated Transport for the Restructuring of Tire-Piston Economic Services.

He previously served as the coordinator of the Anakpawis party group in the city.

“He was actually marked red by government agents. Uniformed soldiers visited him in 2020 and were asked about his involvement in the movement,” she said.

In a Facebook alert, Bayan Socsksargen condemned “the brazen attack on Villegas”.

“We believe that the incident is part of the dirty scheme and crackdown against activists by AFP, PNP and its death squads. We call on the people to speak out and oppose this futile and diabolical scheme Duterte’s attack dogs to silence dissent amid deepening political and economic crisis,” he said.

The group said Villegas is active in the transport sector campaign and struggle and “has strongly criticized the faulty policies of the Duterte regime, as well as the relentless rises in oil prices”.

He said attacks on militants in the region have intensified since last year. In August last year, two trucks run by the Disaster Response Center were set on fire by unidentified perpetrators in the town of Koronadal.

On September 15, 2021, lawyer Juan Macababbad, an activist lawyer, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside his home in Surallah, South Cotabato.

Rommelito Contreras, a former volunteer teacher at the Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services, Inc. or CLANS, was shot dead last December 17 by unidentified perpetrators in Barangay Lagao. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)