Backhoe man describes Philippine massacre burial

A backhoe driver has described in chilling detail how he used the excavator to bury the 58 victims of the Philippines' worst political massacre, according to a copy of his deposition obtained by AFP Tuesday.

Minutes after the November 2009 shootings, Bong Andal said he excavated two pits on both sides of a rural road -- one to dump the victims' bodies and the other to bury their cars.

He said his employer, clan patriarch Andal Ampatuan Senior, had ordered him to take the excavator to the site. There, he saw the patriarch's son and namesake, Andal Ampatuan Junior, with scores of other gunmen.

"I was shocked to see so many dead people, women and men, all of them soaked in blood. The dead were scattered along the side of the road," the driver said in the undated statement, written in Filipino.

"It was then that Datu Unsay commanded me, 'Bury all of them, including their cars'," he added. "Datu Unsay" is Ampatuan Junior's nickname.

The clan allegedly ordered the massacre to stop a political rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, from running against one of its members for the governorship of Maguindanao, a poor farming province in the south.

The Ampatuan patriarch, two sons and several family members are in custody and on trial for the murder of 58 victims, including 32 journalists who were covering the political contest.

The backhoe driver was arrested last November after a three-year manhunt. More than 90 other suspects remain at large.

"I used the backhoe to push the vehicles into the hole first. Then I flattened them with its metal arm," the driver said.

"Some of the vehicles had dead people inside, so I just closed my eyes out of fright and got on with it."

After digging a second hole, the driver said he used the excavator's arm to drag the bodies into the pit.

"After several hours, I still had not buried all of the dead and their vehicles. Then we heard a helicopter coming and all the armed men guarding me fled."

The driver said he also fled, taking his family from his home, and spent the next few years in hiding.

He said he had worked as supervisor at a garage for the Ampatuan family's earthmoving equipment, and had on three previous occasions seen Ampatuan Junior murder 15 other people.

Ampatuan Junior ordered him to use backhoes to bury six of these victims, he added.

The driver has given the statement to the justice department in a bid to be admitted as a state witness, a person familiar with the case told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The document bore a thumbmark above the driver's name.

The source said the driver fears for his life under police detention because the government had yet to decide whether to let him testify against the Ampatuans.

This meant he and his family could not be transferred to a safe house, unlike the other state witnesses.

At least three witnesses have been killed since 2010, including a former Ampatuan family employee whose dismembered remains were found stuffed into a sack in 2012.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima did not respond to requests for comment from AFP on Tuesday.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Troops overrun BIFF bomb-making facility in Mamasapano
    Troops overrun BIFF bomb-making facility in Mamasapano

    Government troops captured Sunday a bomb and weapons factory of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced yesterday. Col. Restituto Padilla, AFP spokesman, said the captured bomb and weapons factory is located inside an area controlled by radical Muslim cleric Ustadz Mohammad Ali Tambako at Barangay Dasikil in Mamasapano. …

  • No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors
    No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors

    Instead of filing an opposition, ombudsman prosecutors filed a manifestation yesterday expressing belief that there is no urgent need for Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to visit his son at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center. “Based on the clinical abstract issued by the Asian Hospital on patient (Cavite) Vice-governor (Jolo) Revilla, which was submitted by accused Revilla in support of his Urgent Motion, Vice-governor Revilla is in stable condition and has stable vital signs, as of March 1, …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say
    How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

    CAIRO (AP) — Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded. …

  • 'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait
    'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait

    Kuwaiti authorities are closely monitoring several relatives of "Jihadi John" who live and work in the Gulf emirate where the Islamic State executioner was born, press reports said on Sunday. A number of relatives of Mohammed Emwazi, named as the militant who has beheaded at least five Western hostages, are working in Kuwait and like him hold British citizenship, Al-Qabas newspaper reported. "Security agencies have taken the necessary measures to monitor them round the clock," the paper said, …

  • Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon
    Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon

    By Matt Siegel CANBERRA (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cannot go on forever, Australia's deputy prime minister said, and discussions are already under way between Australia, China and Malaysia as to whether to call off the hunt within weeks. No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared a year ago this week carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. The search of a rugged …

  • Bong wants to see son in hospital
    Bong wants to see son in hospital

    Detained Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. will ask the Sandiganbayan to allow him to visit his son, Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla, confined at the intensive care unit of the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa for a gunshot wound in the chest. Lawyer Raymond Fortun, spokesman for the Revilla family, said the senator would ask for a 24- to 48-hour furlough. Sen. Revilla’s legal counsel Ramon Esguerra said doctors removed a half liter of blood. Fortun said he was able to talk to Jolo …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options