Alleged backhoe operator in Maguindanao massacre dropped as state witness



Site of the Maguindanao massacre. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The alleged backhoe operator in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre has been dropped as a prosecution witness and will instead be charged as one of 195 accused.

State prosecutors have asked a Quezon City court to immediately arraign Bong Andal, the alleged backhoe operator who dug the grave of 58 massacre victims, 32 of whom were media workers.

Prosecution panel head Archimedes Manabat said their decision to drop Andal as witness had something to do with the court testimony of state witness Sukarno Badal.

The state prosecutors, in a motion to withdraw their petition for the exclusion of Andal as an accused in the massacre case filed with Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221, said they have decided to do away with Andal’s offer to testify for the prosecution.

“After a thoughtful consideration that the matters he (Andal) would testify on had already been covered by the testimony given in open court on February 14, 20, 21, and 27, by Sukarno Badal, who was recently dropped and excluded from the information, the panel of public prosecutors reached a decision not to present Bong Andal anymore as a witness,” the motion read.

The Ampatuans, the primary accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, had previously rejected the bid of Andal to turn state witness claiming that the Maguindanao provincial government employee and backhoe operator was disqualified under the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.

“There is no absolute necessity for Bong Andal’s testimony. The prosecution has presented at least four alleged eyewitnesses, the character of whose testimonies were confirmed by this honorable Court. The alleged eyewitnesses had testified on the supposed planning and cover-up of the massacre,” they had argued.

The state prosecutors further asked Reyes that their petition to discharge Andal as an accused be expunged from the court records and asked that the backhoe operator be detained at the Quezon City Jail-Annex in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Reyes meanwhile scheduled the arraignment of four of the 195 accused in the Maguindanao massacre for Wednesday at the makeshift court in Camp Bagong Diwa.

Reyes directed the warden of the Quezon City Jail-Annex to make sure that former Mamasapano town councilman Talembo Masukat, Dexson Saptula, Norhato Kamino and Abedin Alamada are present for their arraignment.

Masukat was arrested on Feb. 16 after he and several other armed men engaged members of the Army 45th Infantry Battalion at Barangay (village) Manungkaling, Mamasapano town in Maguindanao.

Masukat carried a P300,000 reward for his arrest as one of suspects in the massacre of 58 persons in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.

Masukat was identified as a trusted aide of Mamasapano town mayor Bahnarin Ampatuan, another accused in the massacre and grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. He had also worked as a driver for the ex-governor’s eldest daughter, Bai Rebecca Ampatuan.

Datu Abdullah Sangki town councilor Mohammad Sangki had said it was Masukat who relayed to him the alleged plan to block the Mangudadatu convoy and who deployed on Nov. 19, four days before the massacre, a dozen members of a civilian auxiliary unit to a checkpoint at Crossing Saniag in Sitio Masalay. The checkpoint was near the site of the grisly killings.

Saptula, on the other hand, was arrested on July 19, 2012 in Sarangani province and is identified as a former Ampatuan employee.

Kamino, also an alleged Ampatuan clan employee, disappeared after the massacre. He was arrested on Oct. 21, 2012 in Glan town, Sarangani province after finding work at a banana plantation.

Alamada is an alleged former militiaman and armed follower of the Ampatuans suspected of taking part in the killings. He carried a P250,000 bounty and was arrested on Nov. 1, 2012 in South Cotabato.

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  • graciano82

    Just hoping that the move of the prosecution to drop Andal as a state witness is not to weaken the case as a sly move to free the ampatuans. Andal to me is a very vital witness because he personally dug the grave site of the victims. 

  • Jerry

    matanung ko lang po. ano po kaya ang defense ni Atty. Fortun when the time for the accused will present their witnesses.  Na hindi sila ang pumatay? eh sino po ang pumatay sa lahat ng mga victimes? sinu? sino? may iba pa ba? o ang defense ni Atty fortun ay nagpatiwakal sila? Di ba trabaho din ng abugado na tulungan ang mga cliente nila to plead para bababa ang penalty nila?

  • speaksoftlylove

    Oiisstt, ito yong nagiisang witness na may “personal knowledge daw” at nakarininig sa bulungbulungan ni GMA at Ampatuan, di ba? So paano na yan Delima at Brillantes? Kahit may isang milyon pa kayong corroborating witnesses, wala namang i-corroborate? Mga pasaway.

  • bogli_anakdami


    guilty as charged, the poor backhoe is going to be dismantled, scrapped and to be sold to intsik beho as scrap…

    magkano na ba ang kilo ng bakal ngayon?

  • Loggnat

    The backhoe operator who will be charge with the Ampatuan was dropped as a witness by the prosecutor. What will they charge him? As an accessory to the cover up of the massacre, he has no choice but follow what the Ampatuan told him to do. Knowing that the killers will not think twice to add his corpse to the pile if he refuses the order, what can he do? His information will collaborate the other witnesses statement so that it will make them stronger testimonies for the prosecution of the perpetrators of the massacre. Additional witness collaborating the facts against the the criminals is always a plus and makes the case stronger and dropping this lesser evil witness of the massacre is a mistake. I think.

  • patawad

    Ayyyyyyy, buhay pa ba sila?  Sa tagal nitong kaso, patay na silang lahat bago may decision. Will become moot and academic, diba ganoon kay Gen Reyes na nagsuicide?

  • disqusted0fu

    Still noynoying… The next move on this case will be on its next anniversary, and it will be another small little step. There is nothing being accomplished in this administration because they are so focused on extra curricular and unnecessary things.

  • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

    Ang galing ah.

    Promise them the protection of the WPP and as states witnesses, get their information, then drop them off the list, like hot potatoes.

    That is a lesson for all of you out there, do not trust this government. It says one thing, but then does a 180 and runs the other.


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