US Gifts The Philippines With Surveillance Planes To Combat Islamist Militants, Pirates

REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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The U.S. reportedly gifted the Philippines with two new surveillance planes Thursday so the country can combat Islamist militants and piracy.

While the aircrafts are valued at around $2 million each, the whole bestowal costs $30 million, according to Reuters, because it includes intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tools.

The surveillance planes were reportedly part of a $425 million agreement called the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) in which the U.S. aims to help Southeast Asian countries address security challenges, like the growing presence of ISIS in the region. Out of the $49.72 million allotted in 2016 under the MSI, the Philippines were granted more than 80 percent, according to Reuters. In return, the Philippines gave the U.S. access to its five bases.

The U.S. is also expected to endow the Philippines with two advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in the near future in order to reinforce their collective offensive campaign.

Militants associated with the Islamic State have peppered Marawi city on the island of Mindanao with attacks. In fact, fighting has so ravaged portions of the town that a local detailed how it has essentially become a war zone. (RELATED: ISIS Insurgents Gun Down ‘Belligerent Christians’ In The Philippines)

“We are not okay here,” a Marawi City resident posted on Facebook in May, according to the Inquirer. “There are buildings on fire in the town and we are not hearing any fire truck sirens or what. And now lights are out and we are hearing gunshots again.”

ISIS’ specific brand of savagery is on display in the Asia-Pacific nation, as the military discovered the bodies of five decapitated civilians in June. Fighters for the radical terrorist bloc are also using female hostages as sex slaves.

Officials warned that such atrocities are expected to continue as Filipino troops try to liberate Marawi. Armed forces in the city have been battling extremists affiliated with Islamic separatist groups, specifically the ISIS-aligned Maute Group, for multiple months. The military recently demanded that the country more assertively curb immigration because of the influx of terrorists. (RELATED: Philippines President Duterte Vows To Eat Livers Of Islamist Militants)

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