M'LANG, North Cotabato -- One of Mindanao’s dreaded cult leaders who fought against Moro separatist movement in the 70s was buried here, the local cemetery administrator revealed Monday.
Hernand Dapudong, M’lang cemetery administrator, said the remains of Feliciano Luces, alias “Commander Toothpick,” will soon be transferred to a cabinet burial site as the M’lang public cemetery is being relocated.
Dapudong, who assumed as public cemetery administrator in 2014, said there were attempts in the past by unidentified men to open Luces’ tomb to take his skeletal kneecap.
“During my term, no more cases of men lurking at night coming to this cemetery to take dead man’s kneecap to be used as amulets,” he said. “If you ask me, that is a myth but many people still believe so. But no more kneecap thieves since I assumed as administrator.”
Belief among rural folks here was that a dead man’s kneecap is used as amulet against guns and bullets, especially for Commander Toothpick who many believed had amulets that spared him from bullet wounds.
Commander Toothpick, who was used by the Philippine military in the 70s to fight Moro separatist rebels in Maguindanao, North and South Cotabato was known to be avoiding Moro rebels’ bullets by dancing during armed skirmishes. He was known as pioneer among armed religious cults, more known as “Ilagas” (rats).
He founded his group in South Cotabato in 1967.
Commander Toothpick who was from Antique province and Leonarda Lacson who hailed from Iloilo formed the dreaded cultist group in Mindanao and called it Magnificent Seven.
Commander Toothpick and his fanatic followers had helped the Philippine military fight Moro separatist movement campaigning for self-rule in the early 1970s. His group was feared for ruthless attacks against its enemies, cutting their victims’ ears placed in their wallets and the bones formed into necklace pendants.
Born on January 15, 1941 in Antique, Commander Toothpick died on December 2, 1982 due to illness. His wife, Norma, died due to illness exactly 22 years later. (PNA)