IN PHOTOS: Red God Defenders

Members of a newly-formed armed Christian group in Mindanao have come out in public to show their strong opposition against attacks by ISIS-inspired organizations in their communities

CENTRAL MINDANAO, Philippines – Concerned citizens have banded themselves into a group they call “Red God Defenders,” whose primary goal is to protect their lands, families, and people from attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

DEFENDERS. Members of the Red God Defenders after their gathering Tuesday, January 19, 2016, somewhere in Central Mindanao. All photos by Jeoffrey Maitem/Rappler

The group’s spokesman, Brother Asiong, said they were forced to arm themselves as they were being attacked by lawless elements even if they were just civilians working on their farmlands.

“Lawless elements will harass us if the military is gone. At least we can defend ourselves,” he said.

ARMED. A Red God Defender soldier with an AK-47 rifle obtained from the MILF.

READY TO PROTECT. Apart from usual guns and rifles, they are also armed with swords.

ON GUARD. A Red God Defender member checks the perimeter for lawless elements near their village.

The group had been fighting for their rights over lands which the government had already given them. Their security situation, said Asiong, only became complicated with the presence of the BIFF. 

He clarified that their weapons did not come from political officials or groups. They acquired bought them from some “moles” in the MILF.

PRAY OVER. A leader prays over members of the group during the gathering.

Since the 1970s, Asiong said more than 60 people from their side have been killed by rebels.

READY. A Red God Defender member waits for the start of their weekly meeting.