Friday, August 17, 2012

Christian Cults, Armed Vigilantes, and Brain-Eating Cannibals

April 4, 1987, New York Times, Right-Wing Vigilantes Spreading in Philippines, by Seth Mydans,
April 8, 1987, New York Times, A Sign of War in Philippines: The Refugees, by Seth Mydans,
August 15, 1987, News Digest Volume 1, Mindanao Human Rights Monitor, 42 vigilante groups exist in Mindanao, reposted by Davao Today on July 5, 2009,
June 5, 1988, New York Times, Philippine Army Seizes the Moment in Rebel War, by Seth Mydans,
June 18, 1988, New York Times,Aquino Said to Condone Human Rights Abuses,
August 12, 1990, New York Times, Rights Abuses by Manila and Rebels Are Reported,
Wikipedia, Kuratong Baleleng,

June 1991, Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, Philippines - A Country Study, Vigilantes,

1992, ScholarSpace, Vigilantes in the Philippines From Fanatical Cults To Citizens' Organizations, by Ronald J. May,
August 29 1993, Seattle Times, 7 Years After Exile, Marcos Revered In Return For Burial, Robert H. Reid,
April 8, 1995, Manila Standard, page 6, 'Crucifixion': Penitence that persists in Bulacan, Carmela B. Reyes,
October 24, 1999, AP / Seattle Times, Marcos Seen As Saint By Cult Members, by Jim Gomez,
February 8, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer,Op-Ed, p.A8, Vigilantes and cannibals, by Michael L. Tan,
March 30, 2009, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Trail of beheadings
April 24, 2000, AFP / The Straits Times, Vengeance beheading by Christian cult, Page 28,
April 24, 2000, The New Straits Times, Christian cult beheads separatist, says report, page 22,
April 24, 2000, The New Straits Times, page 22, Christian cult beheads separatist, says report, 184 words
April 24, 2000, The News / AFP, Philippines: Christian cult beheads Muslim,
April 25, 2000, Philippine Headline News, 3 Soldiers, 25 Rebels Killed in Basilan Assault,
May 12, 2000, Inquirer, Anti-Muslim passions give rise to vigilantes, by the PDI Mindanao Bureau,
May 12, 2000, Inquirer, Abu tortured 2 teachers before they beheaded them, by Julie Alipala-Inot,
June 17, 2000, Asia Times, Christian vigilantes reappear in Muslim rebel area, by Ed Lingao,
June 18, 2000, Manila Bulletin, Gov't, Abu Sayyaf Exchange Hostages,
June 19, 2000, Inquirer, Vigilantes protect N. Cotabato capitol, by Allan A. Nawal, PDI Mindanao Bureau
June 19, 2000, Inquirer, Military 'abuses' in South probed, by Jowel F. Canuday, PDI Mindanao Bureau,
July 7, 2000, Inquirer, p. A 12, Vigilantes arrested for stealing kneecaps from public cemetery,
July 16, 2000, Associated Press, 20 Dead in Christian, Muslim Battles,
August 2, 2000, The Washington Post, Rebels blamed in Indonesia bombing, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran,
August 7, 2000, Philippine Headline News, Christian Vigilantes Armed VS. MILF,
August 12, 2000, Radio Australia, Twenty killed as Philippine troops clash with cult members,
August 12, 2000,, 20 die in clashes between religious cult and authorities in Philippines,
August 12, 2000, New Straits Times, Philippine Army Clashes With Cult Members, 20 Killed,
August 12, 2000, The Independent Online, Christians who don't turn the other cheek,
August 12, 2000, ABC News, At Least 20 Die as Cops Clash With Cultists
August 13, 2000, Miami Herald/AFP Manhunt on for remnants of Philippine Christian cult,
August 13, 2000, The Manila Times, 20 killed as soldiers clash with Bukidnon cultists, by Mirasol Ng-Gadil,
August 13, 2000, AFP / New Straits Times, Where cultists bring terror to local militia,
August 13, 2000, Philippine Star, 16 cultists killed in Bukidnon clash, by Roel Pareño and Jaime Laude,
August 13, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 20 killed as defiant cultists, cops clash, by Froilan Gallardo,
August 13, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Hardcopy, p.A1, 20 killed as defiant cultists, cops clash,
August 13, 2000, News24, Manhunt on for fanatical cult members,
August 13, 2000, Los Angeles Times, 20 Killed as Filipino Troops Battle Cultists,
August 13, 2000, Manila Bulletin, Mindanao Cultists Fight Troops; 20 Die,
August 13, 2000, Philippine Headline News, 20 Dead In Police Clash with Cultists,
August 14, 2000, Manila Bulletin, Another Bomb Blast Kills 2 in CotabatoDiigo,
August 14, 2000, AFP / The Straits Times, Hunt for remnants of fanatical Manila cult,
August 14, 2000, The Manila Times, Editorial, Cult clash,
August 14, 2000, Philippine Star, Tadtad cult a deadly mix of Christian faith, ancient rites, P. Echeminada
August 14, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Slain cultists lost magic, says leader, by Froilan Gallardo,
August 14, 2000 Inquirer, Printed Copy, p.A20, Slain Cultists Lost Magic, Says Leader,
August 15, 2000, The Manila Times, Military option in Patikul ruled out, by Joel San Juan,
August 15, 2000, AP, 'Bulletproof' magic lost because they sinned,
August 17, 2000, Philippine Headline News, TV Cameraman Backs Cops in Cult Clash,
August 18, 2000, Manila Bulletin, 9 PNP Men in Cult Clash Relieved, by Aris R. Ilagan, 615 words,
August 18, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Reyes hits Lacson on 'murder' story,
August 18, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Lacson, Reyes liable for killing, says Roco,
August 18, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Editorial, Benighted,
August 20, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bukidnon massacre, by Randy David,
August 24, 2000, Daily Inquirer, Opinion, TV footage shows only part of the truth, by Diosdado L. Ongol,
December 6, 2000, The Atlantic, At Home with Mayor Baby, by James Ross,
January 17, 2001, Associated Press, Machete Attack Kills 25 in Colombia,
May 6, 2001, Chicago Tribune, Filipino riots reveal widening gap between rich, poor, by Uli Schmetzer,
June 9, 2001, Associated Press, Philippine Priest Needs Gun, He Says,
June 14, 2001, Inquirer, Op-Ed, Headless, by Conrado de Quiros.
July 4, 2001, Associated Press, Christians Massacre 18 Muslims in Indonesia,
August 6, 2001, ABS-CBN, 10:36 AM, Adan: More Cafgus being primed for Basilan,
December 29, 2001, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 hurt in cult amok,
December 26, 2002, The Philippine Star, Grant parole to qualified prisoners, GMA urged, Sammy Santos,
February 3, 2003, The Independent, Pair held after parading 'Jesus and Virgin Mary', by Lely Djuhari,
November 30, 2003, Washington Post, Vigilante Killings Alarm Philippines Citizens, by Alan Sipress,
March 28, 2004, Homestead, The "Iglesia Ni Cristo": A Christian analysis, by Pastor Tony Costa,
August 20, 2005, Manila Bulletin, Suspected member of 'cannibal gang' yields, confirms reports on cannibalism, by Bong Reblando,
April 26, 2006, Arab News, Dismembered Bodies Leave Jeddah Atwitter, by Rasheed Abou-Alsamh,
September 27, 2006, Sun Star (Philippines), The Taboo of Cults, by Lady Ochel Espinosa,
May 21, 2008, Inquirer, Norberto Manero denies regrouping of anti-communist cult, by Jeffrey M. Tupas,
July 10, 2008, Philippine Inquirer, Bishop warned vs intervening in tribal rites, politics, Chris V. Panganiban,
July 11, 2008, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bishop warned over rites’ desecration, by Chris V. Panganiban,
September 8, 2008, Asian Correspondent, Kumander Bucay: Living the ghost of his past, by Edwin Espejo,
December 12, 2008, Christian Science Monitor, Filipino Christian vigilantes get set for battle,
December 17th, 2009,, Bulletproof: The Tadtad
January 28, 2010, The Daily Tribune,CHR probes 'salvaging' cases in Agusan del Sur,
February 8, 2011, AFP, Ex-AFP chief commits suicide, police confirm, Katherine Evangelista,
September 25, 2011, AP / Seattle Times, 16 killed as Filipino troops clash with militants, by Jim Gomez,
October 17th, 2011, Agence France-Presse, Italian priest shot dead in North Cotabato, by Mark Navales,
October 17, 2011, Philippine Misereor Partnership Anti-Mining Campaign, Statement, Fr. Fausto Tentorio,
October 17, 2011, GMA News, Lone gunman kills Italian priest in North Cotabato, Malu Cadelina Manar,
July 13, 2011, UPI, Mother suspected of murder, cannibalism,
October 17, 2011, GMA News, Italian priest the third from PIME murdered in Mindanao,
October 31, 2011, UPI, Witches common on Philippine island
Jan. 9, 2012, UPI, Hundreds injured in religious procession,
April 6, 2012, UPI, Crucifixion re-enacted in Philippines,

Rick Ross General Information (Religion and Occult) Extensive Links List,

CHAPTER 5 Abu Sayyaf Reloaded: Rebels, Agents, Bandits, Terrorists (Case Study), by Soliman M. Santos, Jr. and Octavio A. Dinampo,

July 7, 2000, Inquirer, p. A 12, Vigilantes arrested for stealing kneecaps from public cemetery,


August 15, 1987, News Digest Volume 1, Mindanao Human Rights Monitor, 42 vigilante groups exist in Mindanao, reposted by Davao Today on July 5, 2009,

By Media Mindanao News Service,

DAVAO CITY (MMNS) — At least 42 vigilante groups now exist in Mindanao, the Mindanao Human Rights Monitor (MHRM) reported in its latest issue. These organizations, denominated by a strong anti-communist line abound in three key provinces mainly Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga.

Thirty-three percent of these anti-communist crusaders is concentrated in Davao provinces; 26 percent can be found in the Cotabato provinces and 23 percent is in Zamboanga provinces. The rest are distributed in Agusan, Misamis Oriental, Ozamis and Surigao. There could be more, said the MHRM, a publication of the Task Force Detainees.

Based on reports published in the local dailies, rural membership of vigilantes, armed and unarmed, is estimated to have reached two million or 16 percent of Mindanao’s population. The figure is the sum of the membership declaration of the 42 vigilante groups which ranged from 20 to as high as 100,000 members as claimed by the NAKASAKA in Davao del Sur.

The following are some of the vigilante groups enumerated in the MHRM report:

*ALIMAONG in Sta. Maria, Davao del Sur led by Apolinario Gumera alias Commander Alimaong;

*Alsa Masa in Davao City with a total membership of 3,628 in the city’s 46 barangays. This nationally-known vigilante group is also spreading to the provinces of South Cotabato, Agusan del Sur, Cagayan de Oro and other parts of Mindanao;

*Bantay Bayan in Digos, Davao del Sur; Tandag, Surigao and Cagwait towns of Surigao del Sur;

*BOLO BATTALION operating in the countryside of Davao del Sur;

*KAMPILAN in Davao del Sur said to have 15,000 bolo-wielding members;

*KALIHUKAN LABAN SA KOMUNISTA (KLK) or Movement Against the Communist still in Davao del Sur. It is also known as “Black Bee Squad”;

*KUSOG SA KATAWHAN ALANG SA KALINAW (KKK) or People Power for Peace in barangays San Miguel, Mankilam and Pagsabangan of Tagum, Davao del Norte;

*MALCOM which can be found in Davao Oriental; and in some parts of Surigao del Sur and General Santos City;

*MINDAHILA-KKK operating in Davao del Sur and North Cotabato;

*NAGKAHIUSANG KATAWHAN ALANG SA KALINAW (NAKASAKA) or United People for Peace in 15 municipalities of Davao del Sur;


*TABAK in Sulop, Davao del Sur with some 100 members;

*ALSA MASA LABAN SA NPA in Kiamba, South Cotabato;

*BALIKBAYAN, a group of Muslim rebel-returnee who are fighting Muslim insurgents in Maguindanao province;

*CHRISTIAN LIBERATION ARMY (CLA), an armed group operating in Maguindanao province and in some towns of North Cotabato;

*KATILINGBANONG KALIHUKAN KONTRA KOMUNISTA (4Ks) or Community Movement Against the Communists in Malapatanang Malungon towns of South Cotabato;

*KORONADAL MOVEMENT FOR UNITY AND TRANQUILITY (KOMUT) based in four barangays in Koronadal, South Cotabato. It has 120 members;

*LORD DIVINE SERVICE (LANDASAN), a fanatic group along the borders of Cotabato and Bukidnon provinces;

*TADTAD (SAGRADO CORAZON SENOR), one of the notoriously known groups that started in Misamis Oriental which has spread in many parts of Mindanao. It claims to have some 500 members in Davao del Sur alone;

*BAGANIAN SUBANON ANTI-COMMUNIST ORGANIZATION (BASACO) has tribal Filipinos for its members. It is said to be operating throughout Baganian Peninsula of Zamboanga del Sur;


*PANAGHIUSA CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM SUBANON, INC (PCMSI) composed of KPPK personalities, a pastor of the Alliance Church, some Muslims and Subanon natives and a certain Major Alcos, intelligence head of the 3/1 Brigade based in Siay, Zamboanga del Sur;

*PANALIPOD SA KATAWHAN ALANG SA NASUDNONG DEMOKRASYA (PKND) or People’s shield for National Democracy in Titay, Zamboanga del Sur;

*ROCK CHRIST, a fanatic group which started during the Marcos regime and is still existing in Zamboanga del Sur. A faction is reportedly operating in some parts of Davao del Sur;

*BAGWIS in Barangay San Toribio, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur with 40 members.

*PULAHAN which has members in Bayugan, Agusan del Suras well as in Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental;


*KURATONG BALELENG which derived its name from a bamboo instrument used to warn of the presence of insurgents in Ozamis City’s 51 barangays. It has some 600 regular members.

All of these vigilante groups are allegedly organized by the military authorities stationed in each area. Most of them are supported by local government officials. (Media Mindanao News Service News Digest Volume 1, August 1987-July 1988 Posted by Davao Today)


Saturday, 12 August, 2000, BBC News, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK

Cult clash leaves 20 dead

Troops fire at cultists during the ambush

Twenty people have been killed in a clash between a Christian religious cult and troops in the Philippines, the army said.

The troops had gone to Mindanao island, 870 miles (1,400 km) from the capital, Manila, to serve an arrest warrant on Alfredo Opciona - leader of the Catholic God Spirit cult.

The raiding party was then ambushed by about 20 members of the cult armed with knives.

Sixteen cult members, three members of the army and one civilian volunteer died in the incident at around 1545 local time (0745 GMT) on Friday in Pangantocan town.

A BBC correspondent said violence involving religious cults was not unknown in the Philippines, although it was rare for such violence to cost so many lives.

Catholic God Spirit were one of several civilian organisations that battled Muslim insurgents in the 1970s, but police say it now functions as a Christian group.

Most Filipinos are Roman Catholics, but there are hundreds of small Christian sects like Catholic God Spirit, separate from the Roman Catholic Church or the established Protestant churches.

Vigilante groups

In some places these cults have a militant outlook. This is particularly so in the southern Philippines.

Muslim extremists are fighting for independence in the southern Philippines

There, some members of the Muslim minority are fighting for independence. In response, some Christians formed vigilante groups which are often associated with religious cults.

An army spokesman denied the encounter had anything to do with the government's battle with Muslim separatists.

"There's no connection. This was a Christian religious organisation and there was just a warrant for the group's leader," he said.

Abu Sayyaf are still holding 20 hostages on Jolo

Meanwhile, Filipino Muslim extremists holding 20 hostages in the southern island of Jolo are awaiting a huge ransom payment, sources close to the kidnappers said on Saturday.

 It was not immediately clear how many of the foreign captives would walk free but other sources close to the negotiators said two Germans, two French, two Finns, two South Africans and a Franco-Lebanese woman, all seized from a Malaysian resort on April 23, would soon be released.

The sources did not mention the three Malaysians and two Filipinos who were also seized by the Abu Sayyaf from the Malaysian resort.

The Abu Sayyaf have previously freed six Malaysians and a German along with a German reporter and two Filipino journalists who went to cover the crisis, for what the Philippines military estimated were ransoms totaling 245 million pesos ($5.5m).

August 14, 2000, AFP, Hunt for remnants of fanatical Manila cult,


Wikipedia, Kuratong Baleleng,

The group was originally established by the Philippine military in 1986 to guard against the spread of communist guerrillas in Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur provinces. The first leader, chosen directly by the military, was Ongkoy Parojinog, who allegedly used the group both for its expressed purpose as well as to conduct illegal activities. Parojinog was later killed by Philippine soldiers. When the group was officially disbanded in 1988, they continued to operate as an organized crime syndicate.[1]

Over time, the group grew, with other gangs using the name Kuratong Balelang to cover their own activities. Eventually, the group splintered into multiple, smaller groups headquartered in various cities around the region. The groups are involved in a variety of illegal activities, including robberies, smuggling, kidnapping, murders, extortion, the drug trade, and illegal gambling. According to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, that part of the groups strength is that it is protected by both local and national government officials.[1]
 a b

  1. a b Jose, Torres (January - March 2003). "The Making of a Mindanao Mafia". Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  2. ^ Pedrasa, Ira P. (3 May 2008). "SC defers action on revival of Kuratong case". GMA News. Retrieved 18 March 2011.

August 14, 2000, AFP / The Straits Times, Hunt for remnants of fanatical Manila cult,

Police in southern Philippines hunting the remaining members of the Catholic God's Spirit cult who are on the run have urged them to surrender

Members of the Catholic God's Spirit cult are shot by a Philippine militiaman after several of the fanatical Christian cultists ambushed government forces on Friday.ZAMBOANGA (Philippines)—Army units were scouring a southern Philippine town yesterday for remnants of an extremist Christian cult after a fierce clash with the authorities that left 20 people dead, officials said.

Police in Pangantukan town, Bukidnon province, were also put on high alert as investigations were launched into the Catholic God's Spirit cult in the town. The sect, whose ranks number fewer than a hundred, had splintered into smaller groups yesterday as members attempted to evade arrest, an army spokesman said.

If they peacefully surrender that is better, but we are prepared for any eventuality, said the spokesman.

Police and members of the cult had clashed on Friday after the authorities tried to arrest a member of the group, Roberto Madrina, who was wanted for murder.

The body of a cult member killed in Friday's clash is carted away by residents of Pangantukan town.The group had ambushed the arresting officers and the ensuing clash left 16 cult members, three government troops and their civilian guide dead.

Television footage showed machete-wielding cult members rushing towards government troops from several directions, screaming as they waved the machetes in an apparent effort to ward off bullets.

Local police chief Diosdado Valiente said town officials had earlier negotiated with the cult's leaders to peacefully hand over Madrina to police, assuring them he would be accorded a fair trial in court, but the group rejected the request.

Mr Valiente said a hysterical Madrina was among the first to attack the troops, who fought back using high-powered rifles, immediately killing him and several followers.

The civilian guide was hacked to death by cult members, he added.

The Catholic God's Spirit group is one of dozens of tad-tad or chop-chop fanatical Christian groups in the southern Philippines, so named over their practice of hacking enemies to death.

The incident came amid increasing lawlessness in the southern Philippines where a string of bomb attacks and massacres have left more than 50 people dead.

On Sunday, blasts in two cities killed at least four people and wounded about 23 others.


August 13, 2000, Philippine Star, 16 cultists killed in Bukidnon clash, by Roel Pareño and Jaime Laude,

At least 16 fanatics of a religious cult, three militiamen and a civilian volunteer were killed the other day in a clash that erupted in a remote barangay in Pangantocan town in Bukidnon as police tried to arrest a cult member wanted for attempted murder.

Two other militiamen were wounded in the fighting. Reports reaching Manila said the policemen went to a colony of the Catholic God Spirit sect, more popularly known as Tadtad, in the hinterland village of Kimanait to serve the arrest order on Roberto Madrina Jr. But the cultists, armed with bolos and home-made guns, intervened, resulting in the clash.

The encounter left Madrina and 15 other cult members dead, along with the three militiamen and the civilian volunteer. Army Capt. Charlemagne Batayola, spokesman for the military's Southern Command, said the incident occurred at about 2 p.m. on Friday at Sitio Kimanait in Barangay Kumanaon.

Batayola said a joint police-military force accompanied by Pangantocan Vice Mayor Manuel Silva tried to serve the warrant on Madrina, but other members of the cult resisted.

The fighting ensued after the law enforcers, upon orders of their superiors, tried to arrest the cultists for illegal possession of firearms. Killed on the government side were militiamen Noli Villanueva, Rodolfo Caburnay and Salonito Periodico, and civilian volunteer Sergio Garcia Jr. who acted as the group's guide in going to Kumanaon. The names of the slain cultists were not immediately available. Wounded were Romeo Bautista and Nicolas Molina, both members of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit.

Tadtad groups gained notoriety at the height of the Muslim insurgency in Mindanao in the late 60s and early 70s for their role as government mercenaries to help the military fight the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guerrillas.

The MNLF forged a peace treaty with the government in September 1996. The cults were called tadtad because of their ritual of cutting their forearm with a sharp bolo as a test for total absolution after making a confession of sins with their high priest called Ama or Papa (Father) by his followers. They believed that complete absolution would make them invulnerable to knife attacks.

If the knife leaves a wound on the forearm, it indicates that the devotee is not yet totally cleanse, and has to go through the same ritual all over again. Hence, it is not uncommon to see Tadtad followers having numerous scars on their arms.

August 13, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 20 killed as defiant cultists, cops clash, by Froilan Gallardo,

Kalilangan, Bukidnon---The news footage was startling: a man with an M-16 rifle firing at close range at a man charging toward him with a long knife in hand. The man with the knife slumped to the ground, tried to rise, but a shot hit him in the head, jerking it back, his long hair flying.

Twenty people were killed in Bukidnon on Friday when members of a ''tad-tad'' cult clashed with a group of policemen, soldiers and militiamen who were trying to arrest one of the cultists, provincial police chief Supt. Edgardo Villamayor said here yesterday.

The officers went to a colony of the Catholic God's Spirit cult in Barangay Kimanait in Pangantucan, Bukidnon, to serve a warrant of arrest on cultist Roberto Madrina Jr., who was wanted on frustrated murder charges, police said.

The troops opened fire after the cultists, armed with long knives and homemade guns allegedly refused to allow the police to take the suspect and attacked them, Villamayor said.

Killed were 16 cult members, and four civilian militiamen who accompanied the policemen, he said. Two other militiamen were injured in the battle.

A day earlier, six policemen had gone to Kimanait to serve the warrant on Madrina. No other information was immediately available on the frustrated murder case.

But around 300 cult members in a compound of 70 houses surrounded by a bamboo fence refused to turn Madrina over, the police said.

On Thursday night, Pangantucan Vice Mayor Miguel Silva met with Villamayor to discuss the situation and prevent violence.

The two agreed to send on Friday morning a composite team of nine policemen, four Army troopers and 17 militiamen of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units and the Civilian Volunteers Organization to serve the warrant of arrest.


SPO4 Iluminado Garcinela, Pangantucan deputy police chief, told the Inquirer that Silva and four barangay officials went to the cult's compound to negotiate for Madrina's surrender while the police team waited in a barangay hall some 200 meters away.

The negotiations went on from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., after which Silva announced the bartering had failed.

Silva asked Madrina's father. Roberto Sr., who was waiting outside the compound, to appeal to his son to surrender. But Madrina Sr. came out of the compound after 30 minutes, crying because his son had refused to give up.

When the police approached the compound, using a megaphone to tell the cultists to cooperate, the wanted man stepped through the bamboo gate, together with three cult members, carrying bolos and Muslim kris.

Warning shot?

As the policemen warned them to surrender, the four kept walking toward the cops, some 50 meters away.

Around 10 meters away from the police, the four allegedly raised their weapons and charged toward them, Garcinela said.

''I fired a warning shot,'' Garcinela said, but the four did not stop. ''Then I fired another shot hitting him (Madrina Jr.) in the leg.''

Garcinela said an estimated 30 cultists attacked from behind, killing the four militiamen. The cultists then seized the two garand rifles of the Cafgus then fired at them, Garcinela said.

But Peterson Bergara, an ABS-CBN cameraman who was with the team, told the INQUIRER that no warning shots were fired, although he said that the stance of the cultists was ''very intimidating.''

Bergara said Madrina's bolo was not raised when he was shot. The cameraman also said the cultist was shot not in the leg but the right shoulder.
It was only when he was shot when Madrina took out his bolo and charged toward the police, according to Bergara.

ABS-CBN television showed about 15 seconds of footage of the clash, including the dramatic video of the two men with the rifle and the knife.

The footage also showed a man in red lying on a dirt road, puffs of earth rising around him as bullets smacked into the ground, and then another man falling beside the first.

Fanatical cults

Among those killed were Cafgu members Noli Villanueva, Rodolfo Caburnay and Salonito Periodico, and CVO member Sergio Garcia Jr. Among the slain cultists, only Madrina was identified.

Wounded were Cafgu members Nicolas Molina and Romeo Bautista.

Villamayor said none of the cultists had criminal records except for a former leader who killed a Cafgu member and was in turn killed last year.

The cult was one of the ''tad-tad'' or ''chop-chop'' religious groups, Batayola said, referring to fanatical Christian cults in Mindanao who hack their enemies to death with machetes. Convicted killer Norberto Manero Jr., the infamous murderer of Italian priest Tullio Favali, belonged to a similar cult.

Most of the slain cultists wore amulets meant to make them bulletproof, provincial police said.

Known for ferocity

Tad-tad cults, known for their ferocity, first rose to prominence in the 1970s in reaction to the armed Moro separatist campaign in Mindanao. Human rights advocates charge that the government used these cults as vigilante fighters, first against Moro guerrillas and then against communist insurgents and their suspected sympathizers.

Such cults mix Christianity with folk beliefs, such as wearing T-shirts with Latin prayers scrawled upon them which they believe grant them magical powers including invulnerability to bullets and the ability to hypnotize their enemies.

Some are known to use human kneecaps as magical amulets.

As the communist insurgency waned in the 1990s, some of the cults reportedly turned to criminal activities like cattle rustling and illegal logging.

However, there have been fears that a recent upsurge in Moro separatist attacks could lead to a revival of the tad-tad cults.


Data as of June 1991, Philippines - A Country Study, Library of Congress, Federal Research Division


Starting in 1987 a new, unsettling element clouded civil-military relations: vigilante groups that hunted down suspected communists and other leftists. The first and most famous such group was Alsa Masa (Masses Arise), which virtually eliminated communist influence from the Agdao slum area of Davao City. The potential for civilians to accomplish what the military could not aroused official interest. Soon there were more than 200 such groups across the country, with names that hinted at their violent, cult-like nature: Remnants of God; Guerrero of Jesus; Sin, Salvation, Life, and Property; Rock Christ; and, the frightening Tadtad (Chop-Chop), which liked to pose its members for photographs with the severed heads of their victims. Vigilantes often carried magical amulets to ward off bullets, and their rituals were sometimes performed to loud rock music.

Domestic human rights groups, such as Task Force Detainees, and international monitors, such as Amnesty International, publicized incidents of torture. Amnesty International asserted that torture of communist rebels and sympathizers had become a common practice. One paramilitary group in 1988 responded to such criticism by shooting the Filipino regional chairman of Amnesty International. Six human rights lawyers were killed in the first three years of the Aquino government. More than 200 critics of the government were victims of extrajudicial executions. Many vigilantes carried pistols; others were skilled with long, heavy knives called bolos.

Despite many documented abuses, United States and Philippine government officials have spoken in support of some vigilante groups. Aquino cited Alsa Masa's success in Davao as a legitimate exercise of People's Power. Her secretary of local government, Jaime Ferrer, ordered all local officials to set up civilian volunteer organizations or face dismissal. Ferrer was gunned down on August 2, 1987, for this and other anticommunist activities. The government made a distinction between ad hoc vigilante groups and the civilian volunteer organizations. The latter, which included Nation Watch (Bantay Bayan), were to conform to the following guidelines set forth on October 30, 1987, by the Department of National Defense: membership in the organizations was to be voluntary, members would be screened by the police, the organizations were to be defensive, and they were to eschew identification with individual landowners or politicians. Ramos fully supported the civilian volunteer organizations. He described their relationship to the uniformed military as "synergistic" and in 1989 grouped all 20,000 civilian volunteer organizations together under an umbrella organization called the National Alliance for Democracy. In reality, the lines between official and unofficial vigilante groups are often blurred. Large businesses have donated money to the National Alliance for Democracy and used its members as strikebreakers to counter leftist unions.


July 16, 2000, Associated Press, 20 Dead in Christian, Muslim Battles,

JAKARTA, Indonesia-- Indonesian troops joined Muslim militants in street battles with Christian gangs in the Maluku islands, leaving at least 20 people dead and hundreds of buildings destroyed, according to witness accounts and news footage shown Sunday.

The religious fighting has already spread to Sulawesi island, and there are fears that it could expand to other areas of the Indonesian archipelago.

Although the Malukus used to be touted as a model of interfaith relations in Indonesia, tensions date back to 1950, when the Christians ­ many with ties to the Dutch colonial administration ­ battled Indonesian troops in a bid to secede from the predominantly Muslim nation.

July 4, 2001, Associated Press, Christians Massacre 18 Muslims in Indonesia,

JAKARTA, Indonesia--A Christian gang killed 18 Muslims, including women and children, outside a town on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, during religious clashes, police said Wednesday.

Fighting broke out early Tuesday between Muslim and Christian gangs outside the town of Poso, with dozens of villagers injured and houses set ablaze, an officer at the military station in the town said.
Police found 14 people hacked to death, many of them women and children. Local police Lt. Col. Jasman Baso Opu said officers discovered four more victims ­ all of them stabbed to death ­ on Wednesday.

In May last year, around 200 people died in religious fighting in the region, 1,000 miles northeast of Jakarta. Muslim-Christian clashes have continued sporadically.

Meanwhile in Aceh, another violence-wracked province, Indonesian Red Cross officials found four bodies in a shallow grave near the northern town of Lhokseumawe. All the corpses appeared to have been tortured and stabbed.
June 9, 2001, Associated Press, Philippine Priest Needs Gun, He Says,

LAMITAN, Philippines-- Traveling around his remote southern Philippine province, Roman Catholic priest Cirilo Nacorda carries a Bible - and a pistol.

The extra cargo would be unusual for most men of the cloth. But in violence-prone Basilan, where Nacorda has organized a 3,000-member armed group to defend Christians, the priest says his .45-caliber gun is a necessity.

"We cannot protect our lives by just prayers or dialogue. We have to be practical," said the 44-year-old Nacorda, who is parish priest of Basilan's coastal town of Lamitan, scene of the Abu Sayyaf's most recent terror.
February 8, 2000, Philippine Daily Inquirer,Op-Ed, Vigilantes and cannibals, by Michael L. Tan,

It was on a ferry going from Bohol to Cebu that I spotted "Manero" in an Inquirer headline, being read by the passenger in front of me. Without having to red the article, the name sparked dark memories, mainly a poster showing Fr. Tullio Favali sprawled on the ground, his head in a pool of blood. I remember, too, newspaper photographs of Norberto Manero and his gang as they were tried for Father Tullio's murder, their faces showing no remorse.

There's more to the Manero case than judicial incompetence and executive blunders. The Manero case reminds us of the deadly consequences of our vigilante culture.

Manero, alias Kumander Bucay, was and still is a folk hero, venerated as a patriot. He first gained fame, or notoriety, as a member of the Ilaga, "Christian" paramilitary groups formed to fight the Muslims. These were nothing more than vigilante groups, tough macho guys that so many Filipinos seem to yearn for, the ones who can "teach the Moros a lesson."

After the Ilaga were disbanded, Manero moved on to join the Integrated Civil Home Defense Forces (ICHDF), a super paramilitary force created by Marcos in 1976 that brought together motley groups---from volunteers to security guards and armed civilians---to fight the New People's Army in rural areas. Like the Ilaga. the ICHDF was touted as Christian , and more, as defenders of democracy.

How did Father Tullio figure in all this? Mindanao was a frontier area where liberation theology had flourished. The religious---Catholic and Protestant---were busy ministering not just to people's souls but to their earthly needs as well. People were organizing Basic Christian Communities (BCC) that included health services, literacy classes and raising people's consciousness about social issues.

Father Tullio was among those involved in organizing BCCs. Here was a puti, a foreign priest , with the audacity to question landlessness and hunger. He had to be communist. He had to be eliminated. Goaded by "Christian" values and a culture of hatred, the assassins pumped 22 bullets into Father Tullio.

Father Tullio was not the only victim of Manero-type vigilantes. Five months after the priest's assassination, the ICHDF gunned down 21 unarmed demonstrators in Escalante, Negros Occidental. A month after the Escalante massacre, the ICHDF again figured in the murder of nine peasants in Balamban, Cebu. Authorities later claimed the victims---which included children---were marijuana planters. Marcos went on to deploy secret marshals in urban areas, supposedly again to maintain peace and order. Within the first month of the secret marshals' operations, 22 people were summarily executed in Metro Manila, accused of, but never tried, for various crimes.

There were rumors that Manero and his men feasted on Father Tullio's brains. From what I remember, during his trial, Manero neither confirmed nor denied these allegations of cannibalism. People like Manero were not just mercenaries. They were zealots, religious fanatics convinced that they were waging a holy war against Muslims and godless communists, protected by their amulets and ICHDF papers. Maintaining an aura of the arcane and the mysterious helped them keep their cult following.

The rumors about Manero's cannibalism are in a sense appropriate because they reflect what our vigilante culture is all about. Vigilantes are cannibals in the sense that they live off society's ignorance and irrational beliefs, even as they destroy the very society that sustains them. The Ilaga and the ICHDF thrived because there was support from the public, from people gullible enough to believe that these trigger-happy goons would actually protect society. Eventually, time catches up as it does now in the Manero case. We realize that peace has indeed come as we keep to our locked homes, fearful of the Maneros we had created.

Manero became unacceptable to his masters only because he had become too brazenly brutal. The assassination, after all, occurred during the final convulsions of the Marcos dictatorship. But barely had the dust settled after Marcos' overthrow when there were new proposals to revitalize ICHDF-type groups. Time and time again, we would repeat our terrible experiments with vigilante tactics. Today, we have Alfredo Lim, a self-proclaimed Dirty Harry vigilante, becoming the country's interior secretary, with blessings from cardinals and bishops.

When will we ever learn? What guarantees do we have that the spray-painting and checkpoint brigades will not turn into rampaging mobs against society's perceived enemies? Today the targets are alleged drug pushers; tomorrow, we could easily see murderous pogroms against Muslims, against the ethnic Chinese. As the economic and political situation continues to deteriorate, the powers that be will need new scapegoats to sacrifice.

I should not ask who is to guarantee that we will not have another Manero roaming the streets, because he is already out there, and with an ironic flavor to it all. Manero, the Muslim killer, is now himself Muslim, and has talked about moving to Quezon City. It wasn't quite what our vigilante groups and politicians had planned: Manero and his kind were useful as long as they are deployed in distant Mindanao, out of sight, out of mind. No, Manero was not intended to be a neighbor.

I'm willing to give Manero the benfit of a doubt, that perhaps indeed he has reformed and will lead a quiet life. But I wouldn't be surprised either if in the future, he emerges---maybe after a film has been made about his life---as a new poster boy for one of our many vigilante groups, or some law enforcement agency, the difference between the two becoming more and more vague. Manero reminds us that the past is not a matter of ghosts who come back to haunt us. Of our own doing, our past lives on, ready to devour our children.
April 8, 1995, Manila Standard, page 6, 'Crucifixion': Penitence that persists in Bulacan, Carmela B. Reyes,

Call it paganism or warped sense of piety but this ritual seen as bordering on the absurd persists in two places in Bulacan: Kapitangan in Paombong and Barihan, in Malolos.

On Good Friday, devotees will have themselves nailed to the cross to share the suffering of the Lord.

The nailing, which the devotees voluntarily submit to, has been going on for the past years with authorities ostensibly looking the other way.

People, some from other parts of the country, flock to Kapitangan and Barihan to have themselves nailed or to just witness the ritual.

Other devotees, with food and water, spend three or four days walking barefoot under the sun from Metro Manila or adjoining provinces until they reach the two barangays in Bulacan.

These devotees, who will not undergo the crucifixion," will administer to those nailed by giving them water or food.

The devotees believe that by having their palms and feet nailed, their sins are forgiven and they are cleansed of their wrongdoings for the past year.

Others go through the "crucifixion" as their way of thanking the Lord for all the blessings they got.

And all of them swear that instead of feeling pain, they, in fact, get relief and extraordinary sense of fulfillment. And their wounds heal without medication, they swear.

"parang isang milagro talaga ang nangyari sa amin. Ang sugat namin mula sa pagkapako, napagaling namin ng kusa sa loob b ng dalawang linggo, walang gamot at walang doktor. Hindi ba milagro, 'yan?" Mang Deo Domingo told the Manila Standard. (What happened to us was just like a miracle. The wounds from the nails just healed after two weeks, without medication and without the help of a doctor. Isn't it a miracle?)

Mang Deo, who comes from Bacoor, Pampanga, will be "crucified" again on Good Friday. Mang Deo has been in Bulacan since last week to prepare for the ritual.

Mang Deo said if one has a deep faith in the Lord, one losses one's fear and can have one's self "crucified" several times.

He said this was his way of atoning for his sins and to be one with the Lord when He made the supreme sacrifice to save humanity.

May 12, 2000, Inquirer, Anti-Muslim passions give rise to vigilantes, by the PDI Mindanao Bureau,

MALACAÑANG'S decision to pursue all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf has fueled anti-Muslim sentiments in Mindanao not seen even during the height of the Moro secessionist war in the '70s.

This policy has encouraged the setting up of vigilante groups, some of which are demanding a "Muslim-free" Mindanao.

In North Cotabato, the Ilaga, a paramilitary group in the '70s and once headed by convicted priest-killer Norberto Manero Jr., is preparing for war.

Vigilantes have also sprouted in Basilan and in other parts of the island, particularly in areas where the Abu Sayyaf or the MILF operates.

An open letter of the "Alliance of Vigilant Christians for Muslim-Free Mindanao" urged Christians in General Santos City to ostracize Muslims, particularly members of the MILF, Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The alliance hurled highly inflammatory invectives against Muslims and instigated Christians to depose MNLF chair Nur Misuari, the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The letter, dated April 30 and written in Filipino, also asked Christians to chop to bits MILF chair Hashim Salamat. The alliance, however, has yet to come out in the open.

Sale of firearms up

Amid the heightened anti-Muslim sentiments, civilians are buying firearms.

The five gun stores in General Santos City could hardly meet the demand. A check with three of the five gun shops showed that they had run out of stock.

"They're buying arms. Everybody's arming," said South Cotabato Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, House deputy Speaker for Mindanao and a human rights activist.

"You can in a way understand their reaction. People worked hard for this. We had a sad relationship with the rebels and now they're growing, hitting us. The first reaction of the people is to drive them away from the province," she said.

But Fuentes said she was not in favor of what the alliance was espousing although she favored a military option for now.

She said that while "peace talks are still the better option, on our side, we want to be assured that during the peace talks, there will be no recruitment, buying of arms and spreading of camps" by the MILF.

Not a solution

The multisectoral Koalisyon para sa Karapatang Pantao (KKP) in General Santos City said vigilantism was not a solution to the problems confronting Mindanao.

Mario Aguja, a convenor of the KKP, told the INQUIRER that it was wrong to condemn the entire Muslim community just because the Abu Sayyaf had committed atrocities against the Christians.

"Vigilantism and calling on all Christians to take up arms against our Muslim brethren would only exacerbate the problem," he said.

Aguja, however, noted that vigilantism in the country was thriving because of the support from the military.

He said members of the vigilante groups were being used by the military in the anti-insurgency campaign.

Eye for an eye

In Davao City, a group calling itself the Nagkahiusang Pulahang Grupo sa Mindanao has circulated a Bisaya-written paper claiming responsibility for the bombing of a mosque-turned-madrasah (Islamic school) in Tibungco.

The paper, signed by a Moises M. Mesias, said the group bombed the mosque to show that it was "against the killing and the oppression (by the Moro) of Christians in Mindanao."

The group has been watching the developments in Mindanao and have "now come to the point that we have to fight the evil work of the Moros," it said. "It is now time to rise against them (Moro). An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

Mesias urged all "brother Christians in Mindanao to fight oppression, kidnapping and terrorism undertaken by the Moros, be they MILF or Abu Sayyaf."

"If President Estrada could not stop them (Moro), we the Nagkahiusang Pulahang Grupo sa Mindanao are ready to kill the evil Moro, at all times," he said.

The paper was provided to the INQUIRER by Capt. Felix Mangyao, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Southeastern Mindanao spokesperson.

He said it was given to him by a man he suspected as having contacts with the pulahan group.

Mangyao said the man had claimed that the group was based in Davao City's Agdao district, birthplace of the anti-communist vigilante group, Alsa Masa.

But Mangyao said the AFP would not tolerate this group.


Ustadz Pendi Colano, political affairs officer of the MNLF, said he had met with some Muslim leaders in the South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos (Socsargen) area and told them to ignore the letter of the alliance of so-called vigilante Christians.

He said Muslims and Christians could not solve the problem by resorting to violence.

Colano said he would create a Tri-People Council for Peace and Unity in Socsargen to help dampen anti-Muslim sentiments among Christians generated by the killing of a Catholic priest in Basilan by the Abu Sayyaf.

"In every jungle there is snake. Just like the Christians, not all Moros are wicked," he said.

Alimudin Hassan, chair of the Indigenous People's Consultative Council, expressed disgust over people who are out to destroy Christian-Muslim relations in Socsargen.

He said he would convene the council to ask the Muslim communities to ignore the letter. Five out of the 13 Muslim ethno-linguistic tribes were represented in the council.

Evelyn Carias, chair of the Khadidja Moro Women Alliance, warned that the emergence of anti-Muslim vigilantes was triggering an anti-Christian sentiment among the ordinary Moros.

Carias said Muslim residents in areas where the vigilante groups were sprouting were being provoked by the "anti-Muslim hysteria."

The vigilantes may be part of a grand design by some groups or individuals who would benefit from a Christian-Muslim conflict, according to Carias.

She said the war was already benefiting President Estrada because the conflict had sidelined criticisms against his policies and the scandals involving his families, cronies and officials.

Not a Muslim-Christian war

Carias said her organization was intensifying its education campaign among the Moros to explain that the conflict was not a ''Muslim-Christian'' war.

For his part, Davao City Mayor Benjamin de Guzman warned that the emergence of the vigilantes would divide Mindanaoans.

De Guzman said he would not tolerate anti-Muslim vigilantes.

He said he would hold a series of dialogues with Muslim religious leaders to assure them that the city government was against anti-Muslim vigilantes.

Fuentes said the calls for ceasefire and a return to the peace negotiations were "unpopular to our people."

"This reaction may be hawkish but we have to deliver, we have to stand by our people and ensure they're safe."

Fuentes said peace advocates should also call on the MILF to "stop their military adventurism."

She said the Abu Sayyaf and MILF actions had set the Mindanaoans' psyche back to where it was 30 years ago.

"You cannot undo it," she said, adding that if the MILF were likened to a husband who keeps beating his children, the wife would step in and tell the husband to beat her instead.

"Sooner or later, you cannot allow yourself to be abused repeatedly. You will have to decide whether to leave him, separate from him or kill him," Fuentes said. --Reports from Carolyn O. Arguillas, Aquiles Zonio and Jowel F. Canuday, PDI Mindanao Bureau

May 12, 2000, Inquirer, Abu tortured 2 teachers before they beheaded them, by Julie Alipala-Inot

ZAMBOANGA CITY--Teachers Dante Uban and Nelson Enriquez, whose bodies were unearthed in a shallow grave inside the Abu Sayyaf's Camp Abdurazzak in Sumisip, Basilan, were tortured before they were beheaded by their captors.

The teachers' headless bodies, which were airlifted to Isabela, Basilan yesterday afternoon, bore signs of torture.

Enriquez and Uban were reportedly killed on April 19 as a birthday gift to President Estrada.

The teachers' hands and feet were still hogtied when dug from the shallow grave.

Enriquez's younger brother, Nonito, said his family had no choice but to accept Nelson's fate.

"Wala na tayong magagawa kundi tanggapin na lang, pero sana mahuli ang gumawa nito para magkaroon ng katahimikan dito sa Basilan," Nonito said.

The two teachers' remains will be buried at the La Piedad Cemetery in Isabela town this morning.

In Manila, Press Secretary Ricardo Puno said the government would not pay the P250,000 ransom being asked by the Abu Sayyaf for the release of the two female teachers who were among the 31 persons kidnapped by the extremist group in March.

Puno said the government would not budge from its "no ransom" policy.

''The government has consistently taken that position. Besides, the (military) operations (against the Abu Sayyaf) are still continuing,'' he said.

The ransom note demanding P250,000 each for the release of teachers Erlinda Manuel and Teresita Academia was sent to their husbands who could not raise the amount.

Basilan provincial government spokesperson Hader Glang said the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers had been divided into two groups, one of which was holding the two teachers who had been left behind because they could no longer walk.The other group led by Abu Sayyaf head Khaddafy Janjalani and spokesperson Abu Ahmad Salayuddin still held at least seven children. --With a report from Donna S. Cueto
June 19, 2000, Inquirer, Vigilantes protect N. Cotabato capitol, by Allan A. Nawal, PDI Mindanao Bureau

KIDAPAWAN CITY--Vigilantes, belonging to the Knights of the Lord in the Divine Service (KLDS), are helping policemen secure the provincial capitol compound here.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol presented to newsmen on Thursday the vigilantes who arrived at the provincial capitol at around 6:30 in the evening.

"They started to offer their services here after the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) issued a fathwah (death sentence) against me last year," Piñol said.

But he stressed the group was not receiving any support from the government.

The vigilantes are armed with bolos and homemade shotguns.

Piñol admitted that members of the group did not have permits to carry firearms, but he said the police was not running after them.

"They already have the authority (to carry such firearms) from the governor," he said.

Senior Supt. Alex Monteagudo, provincial police chief, said the police had no reason to go after the vigilantes.

"They are not creating any trouble. In fact, they are helping us in maintaining peace and order," Monteagudo said.

The resurgence of vigilante groups in Mindanao has alarmed peace advocates.
June 19, 2000, Military 'abuses' in South probed, by Jowel F. Canuday, PDI Mindanao Bureau,

PIKIT, North Cotabato--As the Army continued shelling a major Moro rebel camp in this province, a team commissioned by the House committee on civil and political rights is investigating alleged military atrocities in Central Mindanao.

Fr. Bert Layson, coordinator of the Disaster Response Team of Pikit, yesterday said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front's Camp Rajamuda was subjected to another round of bombing from Air Force planes and artillery from Fort Pikit, base of the Army's 602nd Infantry Brigade.

On Saturday, about 3,000 soldiers were still having a hard time pushing deeper into Rajamuda because of land mines planted by MILF rebels on approaches to the camp.

According to the military, Rajamuda has served as a launching pad of MILF rebels in their attacks on the national highway and nearby towns.

Col. Hermogenes Esperon, the brigade commander, told reporters on Friday that Rajamuda would be captured "in five days."

In a separate interview Friday, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Angelo Reyes said the camp would be overrun in one week.

Reyes was later overheard asking Esperon if he could meet his deadline of taking Rajamuda "before the OIC meeting."

The AFP chief of staff was referring to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which is holding its 27th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur on June 27-30.

During the meeting, MILF leaders are expected to seek observer status for the rebel group in the influential organization.

A number of MILF officials led by vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar are also in Kuala Lumpur preparing their presentation before the OIC on the alleged "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing" being committed by the Estrada administration against the Moro people.

Since the military offensive in April, 23 of the MILF's 46 camps have been captured.

Officials said the military planned to isolate the rebels inside their main headquarters, Camp Abubakar, to force them to agree on a peace accord under the government's terms.

President Estrada has set a June 30 deadline for the 15,000-strong MILF to accept a government offer of autonomy.

Probe of atrocities

In Davao City, a team assigned by the House Committee on civil and political rights is holding a three-day investigation of atrocities allegedly committed by the military in the course of the war against the MILF.

The investigation is spearheaded by the newly formed Kalinaw Mindanao, a multisectoral and multipartisan movement of rights and peace advocates, lawmakers, local government executives, civil libertarians, church groups and militant organizations.

The investigation, scheduled to start on June 23, will focus on the burning of houses, destruction of mosques, killings of civilians, and evacuation of villagers in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.

The probe team plans to submit the results of its fact-finding to the international rights bodies like the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNCHR).

According to Kalinaw Mindanao, government accounts indicated that a total of 598,929 people, mostly women and children, had been displaced in Central Mindanao, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and in the provinces of Basilan and Zamboanga del Norte in Western Mindanao

August 14, 2000, Manila Bulletin, Another Bomb Blast Kills 2 in CotabatoDiigo,


ZAMBOANGA CITY (AFP) - Army forces were yesterday scouring a southern Philippine town for remnants of a fanatical Christian cult after a fierce clash with authorities that left 20 people dead, officials said.

Police in Pangantukan town, Bukidnon province were also put on high alert as they launched an investigation into the Catholic God's Spirit cult, whose leaders had reportedly been recruiting local youths prior to the clash.

The sect, whose ranks according to initial police and military reports number fewer than a hundred, on Sunday splintered into smaller groups as members attempted to evade arrest and consolidate forces elsewhere, an army spokesman said.

"The cultists have divided themselves into small units to elude military troops, but members of the army continued scouring nearby areas," the spokesman said.

"Police are also conducting their own investigation and have placed check points in the province," he said. "If they peacefully surrender that is better, but we are prepared for any eventuality."


November 30, 2003, Washington Post, Vigilante Killings Alarm Philippines Citizens, by Alan Sipress,

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- Clarita Alia has visited the San Pedro public cemetery every week for the last two years. From evening until dawn, she camps beside the graves of her two teen-age boys, stabbed to death a year earlier in separate attacks. When her 14-year-old son, Bobby, was released from jail last year after being suspected of petty theft, she immediately took him to call on his brothers. She warned Bobby to be on his guard or he might soon join them. Two nights later, he did.

As Bobby got on a motorcycle after leaving a karaoke club, a short man in a black jacket and jeans buried a hunting knife in his back, Clarita recalled, citing witness accounts. Bobby got off the bike to flee but was stabbed again in the right shoulder. He scrambled for nearly a quarter-mile through a marketplace, clutching his shoulder to stanch the bleeding, before he stumbled over a chair and collapsed.

Like his brothers, Bobby was swept up in a wave of unsolved killings in Davao. In the first nine months of this year there were 94 such killings, according to figures compiled by a coalition of human rights, legal and children's advocacy groups. Since 1999 there have been more than 200 and only one prosecution. The murders have terrorized the poor here in the largest city in the southern Philippines. But local officials say they are untroubled by the killings, which they say have made Davao a safer city for tourists.

"I don't mind us being called the murder capital of the Philippines as long as those being killed are the bad guys," said Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, dubbed the "Dirty Harry of Davao" by the public. "From Day One, I said henceforth Davao city will be very, very dangerous for criminals. I've been telling criminals it's a place where you can die any time. If that's a cue for anybody, that's fine."

Davao police attribute the murders to personal grudges between criminals and to gang violence. Many residents, however, say they think a death squad is operating with the blessing of local officials, targeting suspected drug peddlers, pickpockets and other petty thieves. Duterte said in an interview that he did not know who was committing the murders, and he took responsibility for the lack of prosecutions. "I'm more interested in solving crimes against innocent people. I'm not at all interested in the killings of criminals, especially people involved with drugs," he said.

During his tenure, government officials said, the local crime rate has fallen, making Davao one of the safest major cities in the Philippines and winning it national plaudits. The city police department was honored last year by the national police commission as the country's top force. Duterte has been tapped by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as her special adviser on peace and order. The vigilante killings are quietly cheered by local businessmen. "The criminals are being eliminated one by one," said Romeo Serra, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Edmundo Acaylar, the city tourism officer, added that the murders have made this coastal city of 1.1 million a safer vacation destination. "I call it the process of expurgation. Whoever is doing it, I say very good and thank you," he said. The dead are nearly all from the slums of Davao, a city where about a third of the families live below the official subsistence level. The young victims are often drawn from the growing ranks of street children, almost always dropouts who have left school to help their parents scrape out a living or to join gangs.

"This is a systematic, dramatic effort to eliminate the undesirables in society," said Bernie Mondragon, coordinator of the Kabataan Consortium of children's advocacy groups. The killers frequently work in pairs, one acting as the assassin and the other as lookout, according to human rights groups and children's advocates. They sometimes dress in black, with caps partly hiding their faces, and often ride a motorcycle without a license plate.

"Now it seems that every crime deserves the death penalty. Even petty crimes are punishable by death, based on the justice system of these vigilantes," said Carlos T. Zarate, head of the Davao chapter of the Philippine bar association, which has condemned the killings. "We believe the Davao death squad is financed and protected by forces that are coming from the state itself, either the local government or the local police," said Ariel Casilao, a leader of the Coalition Against Summary Executions. He added, "Whenever the mayor declares war on criminality, bodies are found on the street."

Clarita Alia, 48, a mother of seven whose skin has grown dark and tough from pushing a vegetable cart seven days a week in the city's main market, recalled that the police had come looking for her son Richard, 18, one night in July 2001. They accused him of robbery and assault but had no arrest warrant. "You can't take my son," she told them. The officers elbowed her aside, threatening her with arrest. But they did not take Richard. Clarita urged her son to leave town.

Two weeks later, as Richard was returning to the neighborhood, he stopped for a beer. When he stepped outside the cafe to urinate, two burly men jumped him, Clarita said, citing witness accounts. They punched him in the face and then stabbed him to death. Christopher Alia, 16, died three months later. He had recently found work as a barker on a minibus after spending time in jail for sniffing glue. Like Richard, he was stabbed with a butcher's knife.

Then there was Bobby. He had been jailed twice last year, once for carrying a knife and once on suspicion of stealing a cell phone. A brief police report confirms the basic details of the three murders. Chief Inspector Matthew Perlas Baccay, commander of the San Pedro precinct, said in an interview that the police investigation had stalled because of a lack of evidence, adding that the deaths likely resulted from a dispute between youth gangs. But social workers familiar with the Alia cases rejected this explanation.

Clarita is terrified that the violence is not over. Last month, she said, a stranger in a karaoke bar warned her that another son, Arnold, 25, would be next, ominously running an index finger across his throat as he said the name. Arnold has gone into hiding. The grandson constantly in Clarita's arms is Arnold's child. A day after Clarita stoically recounted the saga of her sons in an interview, she took the baby on her weekly visit to the hilltop San Pedro cemetery. She made her way past the larger compounds of wrought iron and marble at the front, to the farthest reaches on the back slope. There, where the grave sites are packed so tight that it's almost impossible to navigate between them, she stepped nimbly from tomb to concrete tomb, grandchild in her arms, until she reached the resting place of her sons.

Their three tombs were stacked one atop another under a makeshift corrugated metal roof. Clarita lit three long, yellow candles and placed them on the unfinished tomb. Then, finally, she wept. "If my sons were guilty, they should have been charged in court. And if they were jailed, I would have accepted it because that would have been according to the law," she said, tears streaking her skin. She tapped the tomb with her fingers, softly. "I don't want my fourth child to die."

April 26, 2006, Arab News, Dismembered Bodies Leave Jeddah Atwitter, by Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, Arab News,

JEDDAH, 21 April 2006 — THE BODY was found around 500 meters from my apartment building in Jeddah two days before I returned from my three-month fellowship abroad. It was that of a 30-something Indian male, and it had been thrown into an abandoned water tank. Bloated beyond recognition, the police had located it after arresting the mastermind behind the crime and two of his accomplices. A third male accomplice was just arrested this past week dressed as a woman and hiding in the bathroom of a pizza restaurant.

The dead man was Ameer Ali, an accountant for a watch company who had been killed by a Yemeni co-worker and three Saudi accomplices all for SR600,000. The dead man left behind a wife and three children in Kerala, one only eight months old and which he had never seen.

I learned all of this from my driver Muneer who had happened to be driving past the location where the body was found, only to be flagged down by police who asked him if he minded helping them retrieve a body from a water tank. He said he didn't mind and that is when he saw the disfigured and rotting body of a man that he had been acquainted with, but which no longer bore any resemblance to the Ameer that he had known.

"My mother is frightened now," Muneer told me. "How can you trust anyone anymore?"

The younger brother of Ameer, who also works in Jeddah, has said that relatives of the Yemeni have already sent out feelers for their family to accept blood money, but that his family doesn't want any money and only wants justice to be served.

In Saudi Arabia that means that the Yemeni and his accomplices will face the death penalty and be beheaded.
* * *
UNFORTUNATELY it is not only company accountants being killed in Jeddah these days. Filipinos are, too. In a gruesome “chop-chop” slay case, the dismembered bodies of three Filipinos were found early this month in a remote area of south Jeddah. Ten Filipinos have been arrested in connection with these bloody murders and after interrogation at least one of them confessed to their crime, according to local press reports, telling police which house, in the poor Al-Ghulail district, they had used to chop up the bodies.

Authorities are saying that the mutilated bodies are those of Pinoys involved in illegal numbers games, victims of a possible dispute of a payout that never occurred.

* * *
IN A perhaps not totally unconnected incident, more than 100 Filipinos in Jeddah this month were arrested for questioning in connection with illegal cockfighting that was being regularly held at a farm just outside the city.

Bored Filipino workers would go there to bet on cockfights. As they all well know, gambling of any kind is forbidden in the Kingdom, and as such must have known that they were breaking the law. But boredom can push people to do strange things, and the Pinoy love of gambling must have been hard to resist especially here where many Filipinos come to work as bachelors, leaving behind spouses, children and families back in the Philippines.
* * *
CONTINUING with what seems to be shaping up as a record “Filipino Crime Month,” 19 Filipino workers are in jail for allegedly stealing 1.8 tons of gold from a mine they worked in near Madinah over the past six years.

That’s a lot of gold. At today's gold prices, that amounts to more than $37 million worth of gold!

It seems the workers, which include engineers, used a contact at the Jeddah airport to smuggle the gold out of the country in cargo going to the Philippines.

Initial press reports had said they had been sentenced to three years imprisonment, which seemed like a light sentence for such a large and sustained period of thievery. Now it seems that they are still under investigation and have not been sentenced yet. They will be lucky if they don't have their hands amputated, which is the Islamic punishment for aggravated and premeditated stealing. (And no, you don't have your hand chopped off for stealing food if you're hungry.)
* * *
THE Filipino community has understandably been abuzz with all of these unseemly events, the lack of any clear information giving rise to overblown conjecture and panic. Part of the blame lies with local authorities who have been, as is traditional, extremely reluctant to divulge any information until interrogation of suspects is completed.

That plus the accompanying silence of the Philippine missions in Riyadh and Jeddah, has left a huge information vacuum that allowed the growth of inaccurate tales.

Some Filipinos I have talked to have asked me to condemn these acts, which I naturally do.

But it seems facile to moralize on these criminal acts, which are so obviously wrong. After all, those who committed them are adults and are aware of how wrong they were. The only conclusion that one can draw from this is that pure greed must have driven all of those involved in these crimes.

In the end I don't feel sorry for any of these people, and I suspect neither does anyone in the Filipino community. Instead, we all feel shame and embarrassment.

July 13, 2011, UPI, 12:56 PM, Mother suspected of murder, cannibalism,

ILAGAN, Philippines, July 13 (UPI) -- A Filipino woman suspected of killing her baby and eating her heart has been put in a mental hospital, authorities said Wednesday.

The 28-year-old mother, who was not identified, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Baltazar Israel, police superintendent in Ilagan, Isabela province, told ABS-CBN News.

"According to her sister, she had a previous medical record. She was previously given medical attention but her medication was halted due to financial problems," he said.

The 1-year-old victim's heart was missing, and police are investigating whether the mother ate it or threw it away.

Neighbors called police Tuesday when they saw the woman carrying a sack. She was caught as she tried to discard it, and the body was found inside, its throat cut. Blood was seen spilling from the mother's mouth.

The mother and child were alone at home at the time, but the woman's partner said she was looking for a knife before he left.

Oct. 31, 2011, UPI, Witches common on Philippine island,

SIQUIJOR, Philippines, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Sorcery, both for good and evil, is a familiar part of life for people living in the Philippines' Siquijor province.

Throughout the Philippines, Siquijor province is synonymous with witches, healers and demons for many people, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

Magic on the island province consists mainly of traditional cultural beliefs that have existed in the Philippines for centuries. When Catholicism was introduced by the Spanish in the 16th century, locals began to mix their ancient practices with their new religion.

Many witches in Siquijor are devote Catholics who use Catholic imagery in their sorcery.

"It's good that the witches are going to church, and we try to steer them away from magic," said the Rev. Larry Catubig, the senior Catholic priest on the island. "But when they go back into the mountains, we have no control over what they do."

Richard Quezon, mayor of the capital town, also named Siquijor, said he used to be terrified of evil witches said to live in the mountains, located in the middle of the island.

Dark witches in Siquijor mostly perform love spells for distraught ex-lovers and their fees can be up to $700.

Healers on the island treat all sorts of ailments for people. Quezon said he went to a witch because of a skin condition that wouldn't go away.

"The medicine from the pharmacy didn't work, but the herbs and spells from the healer worked right away," he said. "Some things science can't explain."

Related Stories

May 9, 2011, UPI, Ahmadinejad's cleric charged with sorcery

March 19, 2010, UPI, 'Sorcerer' faces Saudi execution

February 13, 2009, UPI, Witch hunts on rise in Papua New Guinea

February 6, 2009, UPI, Voodoo makes a comeback in Florida

Likewise, Christian death cult in Africa

January 4, 1999, BBC News, Millennialists prepare for Armageddon,
January 5, 1999, BBC News, Cults: Worry ye not
March 15, 1999, BBC News, Jerusalem braces for 'biblical' visitors,
March 15, 1999, BBC News, Rocking towards Armageddon,
July 8, 1999, BBC News, Doomsday cultists vanish,
July 13, 1999, BBC News, Cult or religion: What's the difference?
September 20, 1999, BBC News, Police swoop on Ugandan cult,
November 19, 1999, BBC News, Millennium sects heads for the hills,
November 23, 1999, BBC News, Uganda cult fire killed 78 children
November 23, 1999, BBC News, Ugandan millennium cult smashed

January 25, 2000, BBC News, Doomsday cult leader arrested
March 18, 2000, BBC News, When devotion means death
March 18, 2000, BBC News, Analysis: Why East Africa?
March 19, 2000, BBC News, Uganda cult suicide toll rises,
March 20, 2000, BBC News, Police among Uganda cult dead
March 20, 2000, BBC News, Uganda cult fire killed 78 children
March 20, 2000, BBC News, Ugandan cult member's warning
March 20, 2000, BBC News, Ugandan millennium cult smashed
March 20, 2000, BBC News,Unceremonious burial for cult victims
March 22, 2000, BBC News, Eyewitness: Why people join cults
March 22, 2000, BBC News, Bishops condemn 'barbaric' cult deaths
March 22, 2000, BBC News, Bombs blamed for cult deaths
March 24, 2000, BBC News, Uganda cult bodies 'hacked to death'
March 24, 2000, BBC News, Fraud suspicion in cult killings
March 28, 2000, BBC News, Picture gallery: Relatives mourn
March, 28 2000, BBC News, Fraud suspicion in cult killings
March 29, 2000, BBC News, Quiet cult's doomsday suicide,
March 29, 2000, BBC News, The preacher and the prostitute
March 29, 2000, BBC News, Quiet cult's doomsday deaths
March 30, 2000, BBC News, Priest who murdered his flock,
April 6 2000, BBC News, Should cults be banned?

The usual politics of beheading:
January 17, 2001, Associated Press, Machete Attack Kills 25 in Colombia,

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Suspected right-wing paramilitary gunmen with machetes hacked to death 25 men in northern Colombia on Wednesday before burning dozens of homes to the ground, police said.

The victims, all men between the ages of 22 and 65, were removed one by one from their homes, surrounded and killed with machete blows to the head and neck. The attackers apparently accused the men of working with leftist guerrilla groups.

December 29, 2001, Philippine  Daily Inquirer, 22 hurt in cult amok,

BUTUAN CITY--At least 22 persons, including four children, were wounded when a suspected member of the Pulahan cult group went on a hacking spree inside the Lipata Ferry Terminal in Surigao City early morning on Thursday.

Insp. Vimellee Reveche Madrid, spokesperson of the Caraga Police Regional Command said among those wounded were members of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines who were to attend the National Jamboree in Leyte.

Most of the victims were asleep at the ground and second floors of the ferry terminal and were waiting for the Lilioan-bound ferryboat to depart when Dalmacio Abad hacked them.

Madrid said Abad, 60, and a resident of Kabayanan, Bontoc, Southern Leyte was drunk. He even tried to resist arrest by Surigao City policemen.

It was not clear what drove the suspect to go berserk.

Madrid said laxity on the part of security personnel manning the port could be blamed for the incident.

"We really wonder how he was able to bring his (machete) inside the port. I think there were lapses in (the) security," Madrid said.

She said the police are still investigating the incident. Franklin Caliguid, PDI Mindanao Bureau

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