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Witness tells of Philippine massacre burial

AFP-JIJI

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 video aired Tuesday.

The man said he dug a hole near where the victims were shot by the Ampatuan clan in November 2009, then pushed the bodies as well as their cars into the pit.

“I am Bong Andal, a trusted employee of the Ampatuans. . . . They ordered me to bury the people they had massacred,” the man said in the clip aired by Manila-based GMA network.

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

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

The backhoe driver was arrested last November, while more than 90 other suspects remain at large. GMA said Andal had signed a deposition that was given to state prosecutors. It said it later had an exclusive interview with him, in which he repeated the allegations made in the written deposition. The network said part of his quotes were from the deposition and part from the interview.

“I used the backhoe to push the vehicles into the hole first. Then I flattened them with its metal arm,” the station quoted him as saying.