MANILA, Philippines ? A witness in the carnage in Maguindanao that claimed the lives of at least 57 people has surfaced and claimed that he was merely ?following orders? and identified Andal Ampatuan Jr. as the alleged mastermind, according to an article posted on the Al-Jazeera news website.
?Anyone from the Mangudadatu clan ? women or children ? should be killed... We don't ask why, we just followed orders," the witness who identified himself as ?Boy? told Al-Jazeera correspondent Marga Ortigas in an interview posted on the network?s website Thursday.
?Boy? said that the orders came directly from Andal Ampatuan Jr., Datu Unsay mayor, and whose family was also an ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Ampatuan Jr. is the son of Maguindanao Governor Andal Sr., both belonging to the powerful Ampatuan clan in Mindanao. The younger Ampatuan was charged with multiple murder before the Department of Justice Thursday when he was surrendered by a member of his family to authorities. He was tagged by, among others, the wife of his family?s political rival, Buluan Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, before she was killed last November 23, along with 56 others.
?Boy? admitted that he was one of the 100 armed men who stopped the six-vehicle convoy of the Mangudadatus who were on their way to file the certificate of candidacy of the Buluan mayor. Also in the convoy were Mangudadatu?s two sisters, two lawyers, and journalists who were to cover the event.
The group was massacred in a mountainous area, said ?Boy,? adding that all the slain women were raped, and the journalists who were part of the convoy, also killed so that no one would talk about the incident.
The bodies of the victims were in shallow graves that were dug using an excavator, according to the report.
"Boy" said the whole process lasted little more than an hour before they abruptly abandoned the scene following a warning that members of the military were nearby, the report added.
"We didn't get to finish, which is why the excavator was left there," he said. "Someone called and said soldiers were on their way. I feel they have connections among the soldiers."
But ?Boy? denied killing anyone, saying he just stood while the massacre was being carried out. He told Al-Jazeera that he was now in hiding for fear of his life.
INQUIRER.net tried to get a reaction from Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, but the official said he was in a meeting.