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Salman was silent until Maguindanao massacre - witness

MANILA, Philippines - An Army corporal who saw the convoy being stopped at a checkpoint in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao today testified that it was the first time he heard a volley of gunfire in the area since his 13 years of military service.

During cross examination, Cpl. Zaldy Raymundo of the Army's 38th Infantry Battalion, said that though there is a Moro National Liberation Front camp near the detachment where he was stationed, it was only on the morning of Nov. 23, 2009 that he heard a series of gun burst.

"Wala naman akong naririnig ng putok doon," Raymundo told a defense lawyer when asked about the MNLF camp in the mountains of Brgy. Salman, Ampatuan town since his three-month detail in the area.

He also said on open court that the local policemen from the 1507th Regional Mobile Group and militiamen had setup four checkpoints in the area--Crossing Salman, Sitio Malatin, Crossing Saniag, and Sitio Bilibiran-- from Nov. 19 to Nov. 23, 2009, the day of the massacre of 58 people.

He said he was surprised that the militiamen staying in two huts in front of the detachment dropped to the ground then trained their high powered firearms at them.

"Yung mga CVO dumapa tapos yung mga baril nila nakaharap sa amin," he said.

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Raymundo said after hearing the gunfire, a militiaman came running to the detachment shouting "wala kayong nakita, wala kayong narinig."

He also testified that some policemen with him inside the military detachment scampered and hid when they heard the gunshots.

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