MANILA, Philippines — Washington has offered to send two surveillance aircraft to assist the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations against terrorists, the US ambassador said Tuesday.
US Ambassador Sung Kim said that two Cessna 208 planes will be turned over to the Philippine government in a couple of weeks.
Kim stressed that the US is deeply concerned about the security situation in Marawi City, where government forces have been fighting against local terror groups for more than eight weeks now.
“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 in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
The US envoy also noted that American troops are present in Mindanao under the mutual defense treaty between the two countries.
Kim added that the US is committed to helping with the rehabilitation program for Marawi.
“Beyond stabilization, we want to help the Philippine government with rebuilding and reconstruction of Marawi,” the US envoy said.
Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s previous statements against the Washington, Kim said that the Philippines-US relations remain strong.
“My sense is that the Philippine government starting with President Duterte remains committed to the relationship. There’s mutual respect for the relationship and mutual appreciation for the importance of the relationship,” Kim said.
The navies of the US and the Philippines recently held coordinated patrols in the Sulu Sea amid rising international concern about Islamist militancy and piracy in the region.
The American envoy said that the joint patrol in the Sulu Sea is an example of the strength of the alliance between the Philippines and the US.
“It’s clear that our commitment to the Philippines, to the defense of the Philippines, under the mutual defense treaty is absolute,” he said.