Witness: 'We just followed orders'
ANC's interview with Al Jazeera correspondent Marga Ortigas, November 26, 2009 (larger view)
MAGUINDANAO- A man who says he was a witness to Monday's massacre in the southern Philippines has told Al Jazeera how he was ordered to kill members of a rival political clan - including women and children - and to make sure no evidence was left behind.
The witness, who identified himself only as "Boy", said he was among more than 100 armed men who held up a convoy of political campaigners and journalists before taking them to a remote mountainous area where they were then killed.
Speaking to Al Jazeera's correspondent Marga Ortigas, "Boy" said the orders had come directly from Andal Ampatuan Jr., a local mayor and a member of a politically powerful local with close ties to the Philippines president.
"Datu Andal himself said, he said to us: anyone from the Mangudadatu clan - women or children - should be killed... We don't ask why, we just followed orders."
At least 57 people died in the massacre, believed to be the worst ever politically-related killings in the Philippines.
"Boy", who is now in hiding fearing his life is in danger, said all of the women in the group had been raped before being killed.
Their bodies were then dumped in mass graves that had already been dug out in advance using an excavator.
He said that Ampatuan Jr had also ordered that the reporters accompanying the convoy should also be killed to cover-up what had happened.
"That too was ordered by Datu Andal… because they didn't want any evidence left behind," he said.
"Boy" said the whole process had lasted little more than an hour before the gunmen had to abruptly abandon the scene following a warning that members of the military were nearby.
"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."
Speaking with his face covered to his identity, "Boy" said he was supposed to have been an active participant in the massacre but did not actually kill any of the victims.
He said he would have been shot if he had tried to intervene.
"I was just standing there," he said "I was all alone… I could only leave it up to my conscience."