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US gives spy planes to help Philippines fight militants in the south

Two Cessna 208 planes will be handed over to the Philippine government in a few weeks

Gulf News

Manila: The US will send to the Philippines two spy planes to help the military fight militants in Marawi city, an American envoy has said.

Two Cessna 208 planes will be turned over to the Philippine government in a couple of weeks, US Ambassador Sung Kim told ANC, a TV programme on Tuesday.

“We have been providing a very important support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in terms of information sharing, intelligence sharing, training, technical advice as well as equipment grants,” Kim said.

“Beyond stabilisation, we want to help the Philippine government with rebuilding and reconstruction of Marawi,” the US envoy said, referring to the conflict that has continued up to now.

“My sense is that the Philippine government starting with President Rodrigo Duterte remains committed to the relationship. There’s mutual respect for the relationship and mutual appreciation for the importance of the relationship,” Kim said, in reference to Duterte’s earlier reaction to alleged unequal US-Philippine relations.

The US is deeply concerned about the security situation in Marawi City, said Kim, adding that American troops are present in Mindanao to assist based in the mutual defense treaty between the US and the Philippines.

“It’s clear that our commitment to the Philippines, to the defense of the Philippines, under the mutual defense treaty is absolute,” said Kim, adding the US is also committed to helping with the rehabilitation program for Marawi.

The US and Philippine navies held coordinated patrols in the Sulu Sea to stop members of the 28-year old the Abu Sayyaf Group from continuing piracy in the Sulu and Celebes Seas.

The joint patrol in the Sulu Sea shows stronger US-Philippines ties, said Kim.

Islamist militancy and piracy have been active there, security forces said, adding that Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines have also held joint patrols in the Sulu and Celebes Seas.

US-Philippine ties began at the end of the 19th century, after the US paid $20 million to Spain on December 10, 1898, for the cession of the Philippines which was ruled by Spain for 333 years starting in the 16th century. The US-Spain’s agreement was called Treaty of Paris.

It was seen as a betrayal of the Filipino revolutionary heroes who waged war against Spain from 1896 to 1898. The Philippines hosted two of US’s largest overseas war facilities in central Luzon’s Angeles, Pampanga; and Olongapo, Zambales from 1898 to 1991.

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