Village chief killed in Surigao del Norte, links to mining eyed as motive

Harry Amalla, chair of Barangay Jubgan, San Francisco, Surigao del Norte during an interview on Nov. 6, 2021 at his residence. MindaNews photo by ROEL CATOTO

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 November) – The chair of a barangay in Surigao del Norte where a mining company was recently forced to suspend operations due to the absence of a permit and complaints that it had caused environmental damage and pollution, was shot dead Thursday morning (Nov. 18).

Harry Amalla, chair of Barangay Jubgan, San Francisco town in Surigao del Norte had just arrived at his residence when two assailants aboard a motorcycle shot him at close range, Lt. Anglo Ambid, chief of the municipal police station told MindaNews in a phone interview.

Ambid said that based on their initial investigation Amalla was being tailed as he was driving home from Malimono town, Surigao del Norte.

He said bullets greeted the victim when he opened the window of his Toyota Vios.

“He was shot at close range,” Ambid said, adding Amalla opened the door by the passenger seat and tried to run away for cover.

But the gunman followed his target who tried to hide in a canal and continued shooting him pointblank, the police official said.

Amalla’s wife came out of their house which is about 15 meters away from the crime scene and shouted “enough” to the assailant, he added.

The gunman and his accomplice fled towards the adjacent village going to the town proper aboard a black motorcycle.

Police recovered six empty shells of caliber .45 pistol at the crime scene.

Amalla was rushed to Caraga Regional Hospital and later transferred to Surigao Provincial Hospital. He died on the way to Davao City where he was supposed to be transported owing to his critical condition.

The municipal police station is now thoroughly investigating the incident.

“We cannot discount that possibility that the motive has something to do with the controversial mining operation in his village,” Ambid said.

He said some people got mad at Amalla either because the mining operations had stopped or because they were not compensated for damages caused by it.

He added they are also investigating the angle that the motive of the killing could be a personal grudge.

It was learned that the victim brokered deals between the company, GoSun Siargao Waves Corp., and owners of lands that were affected by its operations.

San Francisco Mayor Val Pinat told MindaNews last Nov. 6 that GoSun, which he said has a binding contract with another firm, Surimin, has not obtained a permit for its large-scale mining operations.

In an interview on the same day, Amalla said the company was building a “farm-to-market-road” along the river going to the mine site and a “fish port.”

He said the wharf is intended as the loading area for the shipment of minerals to China, although the documents he showed to MindaNews indicated that the company is making a fish port.

He said that after the extraction of minerals the wharf will be turned over to the barangay which may use it for various purposes such as a fish port. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)