Suspected backhoe operator in Maguindanao massacre arrested

Posted on November 26, 2012


Police and soldiers retrieve victims of the Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre in sitio Masalay, barangay Salman, Ampatuan town. A backhoe was used to bury the victims and their cars in hastily dug grave. A backhoe was also used to unearth the victims. (INQUIRER FILE)

COTABATO CITY — Another suspect in the Maguindanao massacre fell into government hands in a remote village in North Cotabato, the police said.

The suspect, Bong Andal, a Maguindanao resident and said to be the operator of the backhoe that dug the common graves of the massacre victims, was cornered in an entrapment operation by the Midsayap police, soldiers from the 40th Infantry Battalion and elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao at about 10 a.m. Saturday, a report from the Midsayap police said.

Andal was described as an employee of the Maguindanao provincial government and driver of heavy equipment, backhoe included.

Vigilant villagers helped authorities by providing them with information and photos of Andal, who has been living in barangay Kapinpilan since 2009, the report said.

While he did not resist arrest when presented with three warrants of arrest issued by a Quezon City Court, Andal denied involvement in the massacre, the report added.

He is now under custody of  the CIDG-ARMM.

On Friday, another suspect in the massacre was also arrested as he mingled with families and friends of some victims during the 3rd year commemoration of the carnage in Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

Meanwhile, after drawing flak for supposedly not doing enough to bring justice to Maguindanao massacre victims, Malacañang reiterated the need to allow live media coverage of the trial of nearly 200 accused in the killing of 58 people, including 32 journalists.

“Isn’t it that the reason the President wanted the trial to be broadcast live was in order for us, the Filipino public, to be made aware of what’s going on in the Maguindanao massacre trial?” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda asked in an interview on Radyo ng Bayan.

“That is one good way for us to monitor the massacre trial.”

The Supreme Court has recently reversed itself and granted the petition of Andal Ampatuan Jr., the principal suspect in the massacre, to disallow live media coverage. On June 14 last year, the high tribunal allowed live broadcast but on certain conditions.

Media and human rights organizations marked the third anniversary of the massacre on Friday, assailing the Aquino administration for the slow progress of the trial.

President Benigno Aquino III made no specific mention of the massacre in his speech to media executives in Tagaytay City Friday.

But he spoke in general about “media killings,” saying the government was “demanding the apprehension of suspects and the filing of charges that stick, resulting in justice for all involved.”

Lacierda was more categorical on Saturday, saying the administration remained “firm” in its resolve to bring justice to the massacre victims./Inquirer

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