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Catholic God's Spirit

Catholic God's Spirit


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A cult of Christianity in the Philippines. Said to be a tadtad group, though the cult's leader denies this.

Current Issue

Sixteen cultists who died in a fierce clash Friday with lawmen believed they were invincible against bullets, but their ''magical powers'' did not work because many of them were sinners, the leader of the Catholic God's Spirit cult said yesterday.

Alfredo Obsioma, 44, leader of the 300-member cult, said the 16 who were killed were disloyal followers who had ignored his advice not to fight the team of law enforcers who had come to arrest one of the cultists.

Four civilian militiamen also died in Friday's encounter at the cult's colony in Barangay Kimanait, Pangantucan town.

''They (the cult members) sinned. They had vices and above all, they resorted to violence,'' Obsioma told the INQUIRER here.

He protested reports identifying his group as one of the ''Tadtad (chop-chop)'' cults, fanatical Christian groups so named for their practice of hacking their enemies to death. ''We are not Tadtads. We are believers of the word of God. It's the only way to freedom,'' he said.

Obsioma, a former Army soldier, said amulets made of paper scribbled with Latin prayers would have been enough to make his followers invincible to bullets.

''But the amulets are only for the good. They are not supposed to be used for evil,'' he said.

He said the slain cult members had ignored his advice not to attack the police team, who had gone to the colony to arrest cult member Roberto Madrina Jr. Madrina was wanted on a charge of frustrated murder for stabbing a certain Patricio dela Cruz in a nearby village in 1989.

''They were emboldened by the idea that bullets would not harm them. They were mistaken,'' Obsioma said in the vernacular.

''They lost their power when they disobeyed me,'' he said.
Slain cultists lost magic, says leader, Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines), Aug. 14, 2000

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.
20 killed as defiant cultists, cops clash, Philippine Daily Inquirer (Philippines), Aug. 13, 2000


Starting in 1987 a new, unsettling element clouded civilmilitary 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.

Data as of June 1991

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