Lahat ng lalake, baba.

Had a first hand experience with Arroyo's creeping Martial Law the other night, and it has become a personal reminder of the chilling and unnerving state that the country is in (other than my friend Karen Empeno's along with fellow UP student Sherlyn Cadapan's continued enforced disappearance).

I was with Vencer and Ian of LFS-UP, riding the flashy patok, enjoying emo-rock music blasting from the speakers at ear splitting volume and holding on for dear life as the jeep zoomed along Aurora Boulevard at a speed that would make Sonic the Hedgehog run for his money. We were on our way home to QC, after attending an education summit hijacked by us and turned into a discussion of the recession being experienced by the US and its effects on our neocolonial country (more on that on other posts here or in the LFS website), and an LFS all-leader's meeting at PUP.

All of a sudden, the jeep stopped. The flashing red and blue lights of a police patrol car parked on the side of the road was enough to tell us that something was up.

"Baka magtutulak tayo," said Ian, when suddenly, we heard a stern voice call out to us passengers from the jeep's window.

"Lahat ng lalake, baba."

Upon hearing those words, the "Is this it?" question immediately sprung to mind.

Of course, who were we to argue against around five police officers, one of whom I remember was carrying an M16 rifle?

As we went down the jeep, the same voice who called us to go out gave his second command. "Buksan mga bag. 'Yung mga walang bag, taas ang t-shirt. Bilisan 'nyo na para 'di na tayo maabala."

Shit. My bag was filled with LFS publications and a red LFS flag. I was with Vencer, whose shirt was screaming "Imperyalismo, ibagsak," and who is still hot in the eye's of Manila's Finest (Bastards) after two days of his making fools out of them in consecutive rallies at the Western Police District Headquarters.

Again the question, "Is this it?" Heartbeat racing to newer heights. Chest tightening.

After a split second of flashing a light at the insides of our bags, we were herded back on the jeep without so much as an explanation of why the search, even a token "Thank you for your cooperation and we are sorry for the inconvenience."

No. This is not a case of another paranoid activist, thinking that he is the next target of enforced disappearance. What this is is political harassment. An attempt to remind our country's citizens that "big brother is watching."

Then again, has not mass paranoia has become the norm of today? A reaction to an even more paranoid state and government, afraid that the people are becoming aware of how they are being fooled and hence have been resulting to fascist means at the mere sight of a red banner, or readily accusing anyone of being a "terrorist" or a "destabilizer" for the simple reason that one calls for national industrialization or genuine reform, which so happens to be the same program of the CPP-NPA-NDF, regardless of the fact that the individual whose back is behind a gun barrel is a simple student, critical, and the only thing he holds is a placard, not a rifle.

This same mass paranoia, along with mass hysteria brought about by bombings (perpetrated by no less than the military) etc. is actually being used by the government to further enact fascist policies being masqueraded as security and counter terrorist measures (national ID system and ROTC restoration now at front row, center in the long line of such policies).

That there was no sincere efforts from the police to do a thorough search proves that the entire purpose of the exercise was to harass individuals, reminiscent of checkpoints set up by the Philippine Constabulary during Martial Law. I would even go as far as say that it is another one of the government's "testing waters".

Does the people know that it is their right to refuse such a search, where there was no search warrant? And even if they did, would they demand that their rights be respected, with an M16 carrying policeman eyeing everyone. Even we were dumbfounded, our tongues caught in mid-air. These men (if that is what they believe themselves to be) who were searching our bags after all are wearing the blue uniform that has been stained by the blood of hundreds of dead activists, journalists and civilians, trigger happy who kill young children when they are drunk, who turn their weapons into noisemakers during New Year celebrations, who, a few days ago, beat the crap out of students (me included) and teachers whose only crime was to have the guts to speak out against another government farce.

Hell, if they have nothing better to do with the time that the people are paying them, they should have instead went to Gilmore, where a CRV crashed into a truck that was carrying two container vans which was then blocking both lanes of Aurora Blvd., and causing traffic. The truck was visible from where the search occurred.

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