‘The news will report that you were found in some obscure highway, far from where you were taken. It will say that you had a sign tied to your neck. The police will claim that you were involved in some criminal activity…’

    TODAY, I’d like for us to perform a visualization exercising using a hypothetical situation. (In case you’re DDS and don’t know what “hypothetical” means, please look it up. That’s what the internet is for.)

    It’s an early evening on a humid Wednesday. You arrived home from work some minutes earlier, exhausted but happy for the productive day. After dinner with the family, you sit down at your table on the far side of the living room and fire up your computer, then log into your favorite social media platform, to see what everyone else has been up to. An hour or so from now, you’ll take a quick bath and settle in to sleep, as tomorrow you have a deadline to work on at the office.

    You hear a loud knock on the door, and you think to yourself, “May bisita ba kami? Gabi na ah.”

    As you stand up to answer the door, the door suddenly crashes open with a loud bang, and within seconds you are surrounded by men clad in military-style black uniforms and black masks, all with assault rifles aimed directly at you.

    “Sumama ka sa amin” are the only words you hear before sets of hands grab you by your arms and start dragging you towards the door.

    “Sandali lang, ano ginawa ko?” You plead, all the while making futile attempts to resist being taken outside.

    “Huwag ka ng magtanong, basta sumunod a na lang!” the same gruff voice answers.

    “Kulit nito ah,” another voice quips. Without warning your head is hit from behind by something cold and solid – was that the stock of someone’s rifle? – and you immediately feel whoozy and weak. The sets of hands are now practically carrying your limp body.

    What happens next is a blur. You hear familiar voices calling out your name, while other voices ask what you’ve done and where you’re being taken. You glance back and see one of the masked men standing by your door, their rifle aimed inwards. The man is saying something, but you’re too far now, the voice is muffled, something about being a suspect…?

    You wake up in a dark room, with a single light hanging overhead. You’re handcuffed and bound to a chair. Your ears are ringing, and you can feel something warm trickling down the back of your neck.

    An unfamiliar voice booms out. “Nasaan si Jobert?”

    “Jobert?” You don’t know any “Jobert.” “Sino?” you ask weakly, your head still spinning.

    You hear a whooshing sound, and a split second later you feel a cold, metal bar smash the side of your face. You feel your jawbone crack and several teeth get knocked out. Blood immediately floods out of your mouth, and then starts dripping down your chin.

    “Wala akong kilalang ‘Jobert’” you try to say, but the pain you feel just from moving your jaw reduces your sentence to a murmur, barely audible.

    “Nasaan si Jobert?” the voice asks again, angrier this time. A second later you feel a fist slamming into your stomach at full force. Dizzy, nauseous, and tasting your own blood, your body reacts before you can stop it, and you throw up all over yourself.“P—-a, linisin nga ‘yan!” another voice says. Minutes later, an entire bucket is splashed at you. For a moment it wakes you, and makes you all the more aware of how much pain you’re in.

    For a while, there is a hushed murmur in the room. Finally, after what feels like an eternity, you hear a door open, and you hear a voice whisper, “Boss hindi ‘yan ang target.

    Magkapangalan lang sila.”

    The last thing you hear is the sound of a gun being cocked.

    The news will report that you were found in some obscure highway, far from where you were taken. It will say that you had a sign tied to your neck. The police will claim that you were involved in some criminal activity, and that you were likely killed by your own co-criminals over a disagreement.

    So dear reader, after having visualized the events above, I’d like to give you a pop quiz.

    Was the above scenario:

    a) An incident that happened during Martial Law under Dictator Marcos?

    b) A case of “tokhang” under Duterte?

    c) A future case of a suspected terrorist being taken into custody under the Anti-Terror Bill, by then signed law?

    Can’t tell which one it is?

    That’s exactly my point.