RP-US military uses movie propaganda vs Abu Sayyaf


By Bong Garcia

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THE Philippine and US military have initiated a program that instills patriotism thereby dissuading children from joining terror groups like the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in the island province of Sulu.

The program dubbed as Movie Night highlights the learning of right values while having fun.

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Movie night is being implemented by the Philippine military’s Joint Task Force Comet (JTFC) and America’s Joint Special Operation Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) in the province of Sulu, said to be a hotbed of the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Major General Juancho Sabban, JTFC chief, said the Movie Night is being held every Sunday inside Camp General Teodulfo Bautista in the village of Busbus, Jolo, the capital town of Sulu. Show starts at 6:30 p.m.

Sabban said the movie night caters to both kids and grown-ups.

“The objective of the Movie Night is not only for children to get acquainted with the military, but more importantly to broaden their perspective and help shape them into individuals as assets to the society,” Sabban, who is in-charge of the campaign against Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, said in a statement.

He said what started as a small gathering of 20 children — the attendance of the Movie Night — has grown over the past few months into an assembly of kids with some grown-ups reaching up to around 400 who are eager to watch lesson-filled movies with the military personnel.

Sabban said each night has a different movie, citing they select a film that teaches powerful lessons and “the content and the aptness for the child’s age are considered.”

Sabban said the Movie Night is meant to provide wholesome entertainment with the objective of broadening their horizon.

“Movies are a rare glimpse into the outside world. It is a pastime that children love and a fun activity where they can use their imagination,” he explained.

“Viewers do not only enjoy an evening of fun and good movie, but also free pop corns and balloons too,” he added.

“It is a great time to have movie night with the kids… before the start of a busy week that’s why we make sure movie night is done right,” said Major Yuri Pesigan, JTFC’s Civil Military Operations (CMO).

The movie night begins with Philippine and US military volunteers escorting local children to the movie site where they line-up and get a squirt of antibacterial hand sanitizer and then move through the line to receive a small bag of popcorn and a bottle of water.

Once the seating and snacks are complete, the mood is set.

Before the movie starts, Philippine military volunteers talk to them about basic healthcare, their dreams, and various other topics intended to instill the principles of obedience, discipline, unity, patriotism, and other values.

“It gives the children a chance to see what’s on the other side of the gate — to see who the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) really is. We are here to help and educate them…and they see that we really care about them,” said Philippine Marine Sergeant John Paul Lacao, a Movie Night volunteer.

US Air Force Captain Vance Rothmeyer described the Philippines as a huge melting pot similar to America and “these kids all come from a wide variety of backgrounds.”

“When we bring all of them together by doing something that they can all participate in and identify with, it instills in them a broader sense of nationalism and pride,” Rothmeyer said.

Sabban said that after the education portion of the Movie Night, the lights are turned down in a way that the kids can still get up and move through the room safely.

He said the children are shown short films that highlight the importance of unity and patriotism, plus military’s various humanitarian undertakings meant to benefit the province of Sulu.

Following the short films, the Philippine National Anthem is played, followed by a child-friendly movie.

Sabban said Movie Night culminates with more social interaction between the children and the AFP and US military personnel and “together, they clean up popcorn spills and talk about plans for the next Movie Night.”

Sabban said he foresees that with the wholesome activity of the Movie Night, children — the usual target of recruitment — will be discouraged from joining the Abu Sayyaf group.(Sunstar)

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My Take:

There’s another term for this: brainwashing.

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