MANILA, Philippines -- A man who operated the backhoe said to have been used to bury the victims in the massacre of 52 civilians, including journalists, in Maguindanao, last Monday, is now the subject of a manhunt by Philippine National Police.
Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina, PNP spokesman, said on Wednesday the backhoe operator may lead police investigators to the identities of the armed men who held hostage and later executed the victims.
?He has to explain what he was doing in that area,? Espina said in a news briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
He said the operator, who could be an employee of the provincial capitol of Maguindanao, might also help unmask the mastermind of the killings.
Espina said the backhoe, emblazoned with the name of Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., was apparently used to dig up the graves where some of the bodies were found.
The victims were either close relatives or supporters of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu or journalists sent to cover the filing of his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor at the local Commission on Elections office.
The governor?s son, Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. is planning to succeed his father to the governorship. The Ampatuans are suspected of ordering the massacre.