The Philippines Rise of the Vigilantes

New anti-Communist groups present prickly political problems

They go by names like Soldiers of Christ, Nation Watchers and the People's Movement Against Communism. Some of their members are menacing-looking young men and women with headbands and bolo knives stuck in their belts or automatic weapons slung over their shoulders. The more bizarre groups are called Tadtad, or Chop, because they ritually slash their bodies during initiation. They believe in potions and amulets that they say make them invisible to their enemies.

The groups are collectively known as vigilantes, anti-Communist self- defense bands that have proved so strong a bulwark against subversion by the insurgent New People's Army that...