DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Bayan Muna Party-list coordinator for General Santos Larry Villegas was wounded in his legs when a gunman broke in his house Sunday morning.
In a report from Makabayan Socsksargen, the incident happened in Villegas’ house in Barangay Buayan, General Santos City at around 6 am.
The gunman reportedly fired twice and wounded Villegas in his legs, and was immediately brought to the hospital for medical attention.
Mark Avila, Makabayan Socsksargen coordinator, said Villegas, 64, was already receiving threats from military intelligence operatives of Region 12.
“Before ni nahitabo nga insidente, naka report pa sya nga giduolan siya og mga state forces og ginapugos nga muondang na sa iyang ginabuhat kay supak kuno kini sa gobyerno (Before this incident, he reported that he was approached by state forces who insisted he should stop his anti-government activities),” Avila said.
As chairperson of the local transport group TIRES-PISTON, Villegas was among those red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Avila is certain that the attack on Villegas is part of government’s crackdown on progressives. Early this week, Anakpawis Southern Tagalog regional coordinator Jonathan Mercado and ten of its members were forcibly taken by police officers in Cavite.
As Bayan Muna coordinator, Villegas is campaigning for Makabayan and 1Sambayan senatorial bets Atty. Neri Colmenares and Elmer Labog.
“Klaro kini nga effort nagtumong sa mapinadayunong crackdown sa mga critics sa administration ilabina ngadto sa mga progresibong grupo ug akbista. Wala kami laing pasanginlan sa mga pagpangatake ngadto sa among han-ay kundi mao ang estado nga walay hunong diha sa ilang binuhatan aron nga pahilumon ang mga lehitimong nakigbisog alang sa katawhan,” Avila said.
(This is clearly a continuing crackdown on critics of this administration, especially on the progressive groups and activists. There’s no one else we can accuse of these attacks on our ranks but the state that continuously silence the legitimate struggles of the people.)
House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate also strongly condemned the shooting of Villegas.
“Villegas, being the Bayan Muna coordinator in Gen. Santos and the chairperson of the progressive transport group TIRES-PISTON Gen. Santos. is also a victim of non-stop red-tagging as he criticizes the anti-people policies of the Duterte administration, including the current incessant oil price hikes,” said Zarate.
Zarate in his statement said Villegas is also part of their local members leading the preparations of Bayan Muna to support the Peoples’ Rally of the Leni-Kiko tandem in GenSan on March 15.
“The undemocratic forces behind these attacks clearly want the status quo to continue and the candidates who will carry on these policies to win. This incident must be independently investigated and the perpetrators be held accountable,” he added. (davaotoday.com)