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imns


On Target
Scared of the Ilaga

By Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:26:00 08/30/2008

The Ilaga, an armed group of Christian farmers and settlers in Mindanao, is back and the Moro rebels are scared. Very scared.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) knows the capability of the Ilaga to match violence with violence.

Some members of the Ilaga can even outdo the Moros in atrocities against their enemy.

Stories of Ilaga exploits in their area of operations in the Cotabato provinces in the 1970s told of how Moro rebels, captured or killed by the group, were mutilated and their innards eaten by some illiterate Christian vigilantes.

* * *

The Ilaga was formed in the 1970s to protect Christian communities from attacks by rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The MILF was still non-existent during that time.

The armed group not only protected Christian areas from the MNLF; the Ilaga, like other Christian armed groups, prevented the Moros from overrunning the whole of Mindanao.

Ferdinand Marcosí military was caught unprepared for an all-out war with the Moros at the time.

It had to recruit and train soldiers to fight in Mindanao.

While the Armed Forces of the Philippines was recruiting and training troops in Luzon, the Ilaga and other Christian armed groups, with their crude weapons, fought the well-armed MNLF.

The Moros, thinking Christians were wimps, were shocked by the savagery of the enemy.

Reports of atrocities and massacres committed by the Ilaga against Moro rebels and civilians to avenge a similar fate of their fellow Christians reached Muslim countries in the Middle East.

The Muslim countries, from whom we get most of our oil supply, strongly protested the reported atrocities against the Moros.

Marcosí martial law government, scared of an oil boycott from the Middle East countries, had to restrain the Ilaga and other Christian vigilante groups.

To appease the Muslim countries, Marcos outlawed the Ilaga and other vigilante groups that his military helped to form and arm.

* * *

I was amused by a comment from a reader that I should shut up about whatís happening in Mindanao because I donít know the whys and wherefores of the insurgency problem.

I thank the reader for his comments, sent through the Internet, but let me inform him that Iím also from Mindanao like him.

Born and raised in Mindanao, I grew up mostly in military camps in the provinces of Sulu, Lanao and Cotabato.



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