Sagrado Corazon / Tadtad (Philippines)

Country: Philippines
Details of Formation: The Sagrado Corazon was a religious group founded in 1972 in Initao, Misamis Oriental by Sagrado Sade Jr. By 1986, there is still evidence that the group was anti-government, because the regional constabulary commander had issued a shoot-to-kill order against Sagrado Corazon. In 1987, as a news source reports that they receive protection and support from the Philippine military, suggesting that they were then pro-government.
Details of Termination: In 2000, there was an arrest warrant issued against Alfredo Opciona, Tadtad’s leader. When local officials, accompanied by the army, tried to serve the arrest warrant, Tadtad exchanged fire with the army troops (their former supporters). Subsequently, the Sagrado Corazon/Tadtad split into smaller parts in order to evade arrest.
Purpose: Tadtad’s main purpose was to assist the military in its fight against insurgents (Human Rights Watch). They were also active in remote areas out of the control of the military and successfully drove out rebels from the remote villages.
Organisation: The military provided the Tadtad with protection and support. One new source says that the military organized the Tadtad. While President Aquino gave conflicting signals about whether she endorses rightist vigilante groups such as Tadtad, her armed forces chief of staff, Gen. Fidel Ramos and her secretary of local governments, Jaime Ferrer, both endorsed the use of vigilante groups. According to a news source from 1987, the PGM was led by “Master” Cotil Sade; a news source dated 2000 mentions Alfredo Opciona as Tadtad’s leader.
Weapons and Training: Tadtad are armed with bolo (machete) knives (Human Rights Watch) as well as spears, darts, slingshots, rocks and sometimes (home-made) firearms. They received military weaponry from the military.
Size: One news source from 1987 says that members of Sagrado Corazon claim that 4 million Filipinos were following their cult. Other estimations are more modest: One news source suggests that there were 150,000 member throughout the Philippines, and 2,000 on Cebu Island. Other sources also mention 2,000. When the group became anti-government, police and military reports number fewer than a hundred members.
Reason for Membership: Members of this religious cult believe that they are invincible soldiers of Christ.
Treatment of Civilians: Tadtad repeatedly killed civilians, including suspected NPA sympathizers and villagers. They also burnt villages and mutilated bodies. There are no reports of arrests after the killings; in one case, after they killed Muslim bandits, the police only said that this was a warning against extortion schemes.
Other Information: Sagrado Corazon is the group’s official name, while Tadtad is the more informal name. They are called Tadtad (“chop-chop”) because of an initiation ritual in which they receive knife slashes on the arm and because they literally chop their victims to pieces.
References: Human Rights Watch. 2010. “’They Own the People’. The Ampatuans, State-Backed Militias, and Killings in the Southern Philippines.“ ISBN: 1-56432-710-8.

Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD