The New People’s Army (NPA) had warned several officials of San Francisco town in Surigao del Norte – including the village chief who was recently killed by still unidentified assailants – against allowing large-scale mining operations in the province.
San Francisco Mayor Val Pinat confirmed this to Rappler over the weekend, days after the November 18 attack on Barangay Jubgan chairman Harry Amalla.
Barangay Jubgan, located in San Francisco town, was the site of a mining operation until Pinat stopped it in early November as GoSun Siargao Waves Corporation had no permit. Amalla had allowed the mining operation in his village.
Pinat said that he and several local officials and employees, including Amalla, were confronted by communist rebels while the town officials were inspecting a site for a planned ecological solid waste management project on July 27.
The mayor said that the NPA held him and members of his party for several hours. At least three NPA ground commanders whom the mayor identified as Ka Lucas, Ka Jared, and Ka Sanjo warned them against allowing large-scale mining operations in the town.
“There were many of them, and they warned us about the planned mining operations. They said they were willing to die to protect the environment,” Pinat said.
Romeo Gordonas, a former barangay official of Jubgan who now works at the San Francisco municipal hall, said he was among those held by the rebels that day.
“They were serious about their warning against mining,” said Gordonas, who was among those who opposed mining operations in his town in 2014 – the year the town council declared the whole of San Francisco as a no-mining zone.
Pinat’s disclosure sparked speculation that the NPA is behind Amalla’s slay, but the police said they were still looking into other possible motives like personal grudges resulting from bungled land deals.
San Francisco police chief Lieutenant Anglo Ambid said there was information that Amalla supposedly brokered land deals in connection with the mining operations. – Rappler.com