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Task Force 1178

“Good morning.”

The instructor enters the lecture hall. Another boring and arduous day has started in UP Los Baños. “For those who are either forgetful, procrastinating and simply drowsy or tipsy after those Elbi Nights, I am Joey Sallah. Your instructor in Humanities 3. Today, we’re going to tackle a bit of Philippine Cinema and its illustrious yet controversial history. In lieu of a quiz, you will write an essay on Philippine Cinema’s various shortcomings. Here are my instructions: It must be in a printed format. Use Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, Calibri, Estrangelo Edessa, Corbel or similar fonts with a font size of 12 or 14. You have 100 hours to shove it in my pigeon-hole.”

One student mocked him in a subtle tone that he and his seatmates can only hear. “Yeah, and I’m going to send Joey’s lil’ ass to the Gender Relations Office sooner or later.” Some drew him committing an act of “oral gratification”. Some in the back took pictures of themselves. Others just listened to their lecture instructor.

At the moment where Mr. Sallah discussed the works of Bernal, Brocka and other directors involved in 70’s and 80’s cinema, 50 persons with assault weapons entered the lecture hall and seized dozens of students. One was even caught taking pictures with her seatmate. “Task Force 1178!” was the war cry of the invaders. Like most of the mocker’s classmates in Humanities 3, they were taken away and herded towards a bunch of buses and minibuses. The mocker was taken away, due to a concept called “guilty by association”.

During the commotion, the instructor just stood by, too scared to move a muscle. he can’t even react when his student assistant had her hands cuffed.

The process took 15 minutes and after similar raids were conducted across the campus, they were taken away to a military installation somewhere in Laguna. Regardless of political, religious and sexual orientation, they were tied handcuffed and herded like swine. When the commotion was over, Joey went to the Department of Humanities. Like a majority of his students, some of his peers were taken out of their cubicles in a similar fashion. Only his perceived nemesis, Marcus Bulacayan, was spared from the horror. Sadly, he was attacked while filming the commotion and that rendered him unconscious for a certain amount of time. “Marcus, are you okay?” He was lying in his cubicle, gazing at Joey’s worried face. “Yes.” Other faculty members lifted Marcus to a cushioned chair in the teacher’s lounge.

The surviving faculty members told stories similar to Joey’s dilema. Persons with assault weapons entering the premises, dragging, beating and tying up their targets, then herding its victims to buses, taking them to an unknown destination.

At the Office of the Chancellor, the highest official in the university picked up the phone, since his secretary was too shell shocked. ‘Who is this?”

“Call me the Shutter Bug.” The Chancellor could have shouted at the caller for giving out a pseudonym. However, the caller jumped the gun on him. “Never mind the name. Listen carefully, sir. I’m telling you things that have something to do with today’s raid. And no, I wasn’t involved in the actual raid. in fact, I accidentally stumbled upon some plans that had something to do with today’s events.”

“Say it.”

“The Benigno Aquino III government was perceived as a fallacy due to its inability to weed out corruption and its failure to convict Rep. Arroyo of Pampanga for various graft-related charges. However, the government found a way to distract the madlang people from their inability to keep their “electoral promises”. Simple: they re-discovered an old Marcos-era decree and exploited a flaw in it, thus causing massive arrests. They used PD 1178 – a decree that has something to do with regulating aerial photography. Exact clause is 3C – No aerial photography shall be taken without prior clearance from the Secretary of National Defense or his duly designated representative. This is where they exploited the law, since camwhoring is considered by some circles as an act of taking aerial photography. This is where they hit the jackpot. Some of your students are camwhores, right? Don’t answer it. They’re everywhere. And the same drama is on replay mode, only in other locations. If you’re a camwhore and you know it, better hide. This is where I cut the line of communication. By the way I am a 30-something camwhore lawyer married to a camwhore model and real estate agent.”

The line went dead.

“Holy Shit.” These are the words that the shocked official spewed out of his parched mouth.