The story goes like this:
“Once before in American history we had an episode of Islamic terrorism. It was very quickly stopped. It happened in the Philippines (1911), when General. “Black Jack” Pershing was in command of the occupying US troops. There had been numerous Islamic terrorist attacks and General Pershing was determined to stop them.
Terrorists were captured and forced to dig their own graves. US soldiers then brought in pigs and slaughtered them, leaving the carcasses in the open graves. They then rubbed their bullets in pig blood and fat. The terrorists were horrified. If they are contaminated with pigs' blood, they could never enter heaven.
All but one terrorist was shot, their bodies then dumped into the contaminated graves. The lone survivor was set free and allowed to return to the terrorist camp. He told his comrades what happened to the others. This brought a stop to Philippine Islamic terrorism for the next 50 years.”
As you can see this story is very popular in the world because it provides a very “simple” solution to a very complex problem. The harsh sad truth is it will not work, it will most likely would cause greater problems and, in historical fact, never even happened.
General Pershing was Governor of the troublesome Mindanao-Jolo area. There is absolutely no record of this incident having ever happened and in fact it is in direct conflict with General Pershing’s recorded conduct and known feelings. When the terrorists refused to obey Pershing's order banning firearms, he sent a letter to the Moro leadership expressing sorrow that his soldiers had to resort to violence to enforce that order. He wrote paternally, “All Moros are the same to me as my children and no father wants to kill his own children”. When negotiations stalled and matters became critical, Pershing was still reluctant to be responsible for more unnecessary loss of life.
The interesting dichotomy in this historical excerpt is that the current terrorist / insurgency problems can be solved with lessons direct from Philippine history. Magsaysay knew the answer. Aguinaldo learned the answer the hard way. Negros Chronicle columnist Dindo Generoso had it almost correct (column “Books Not Bullets”). The answer is NOT found with bullets and violence, but sadly not found in books either unless of course it is a Philippine history book. Study your own history and you have the answer to the current terrorist/insurgency problems.