A funeral procession for eight journalists among 57 people killed in the Philippines' worst political violence was showered with flowers today, as security forces confiscated an entire armoury from a powerful clan suspected in the massacre.
Thirty journalists and their staff - the highest number of reporters slain in a single attack anywhere in the world - were killed in an ambush on November 23 together with the family and supporters of a candidate contesting the Ampatuan clan's iron-fisted control of impoverished Maguindanao province.
"It is very difficult to deal with the pain," said Eliver Cablitas, husband of Marites Cablitas, 38, publisher of the tabloid News Focus, who left behind three teenagers.
"I myself went to the crime scene and had to identify her body. I also saw the other dead and it was traumatic," he said.
The journalists' coffins were placed on a flatbed truck bedecked with flowers. A convoy of motorcycles, cars and trucks followed them from a church in General Santos city to the cemetery.
Clusters of residents along the way showered them with flower petals and coins as a send-off to the victims.
"We want justice," read a streamer on the side of the truck.
Police said at least five women, including a journalist, may have been raped, based on initial tests.
The forensic findings also indicated that some of the victims were mowed down with a light machine gun and others shot from a distance of only two feet, said Arturo Cacdac, director of the police crime laboratory.
Among the dead were the wife, sisters and supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu, who sent them to submit his candidacy papers for governor after he had received death threats from the Ampatuans. Twenty-one of the 57 people were women.
The scion of the clan and a town mayor, Andal Ampatuan Jr, turned himself in last week and was charged with multiple counts of murder.
His father - the family's patriarch - and at least four other clan members also are considered suspects but have not yet been charged. They deny any involvement.
Army troops and police, armed with a warrant, stormed four mansions belonging to the Ampatuans today and found firearms and ammunition, said military spokesman Major Randolph Cabangbang.