The Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) will examine Singapore’s offer to use its drones for reconnaissance and surveillance in Marawi city where the AFP is fighting Islamic insurgents.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was quoted as saying to local media yesterday that Singapore’s offer, made by its Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, had been agreed to ‘in principle’ and forwarded to the AFP to examine the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance(ISR) offer that Singapore is ready to provide.
Earlier, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has been quoted as saying that he has offered his Philippine counterpart a unit of the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) unmanned aerial vehicles to boost the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the Philippine military.
"We recognise that the area of Marawi and the surrounding areas are very large. There are many islands, and surveillance is an issue," Dr Ng said yesterday in an interview on the last day of his two-day working visit to the Philippines.
Singapore has two types of drones: the Heron 1, which has a range of 200km and can stay in the air for 24 hours; and the Hermes 450, which has half the range and a shorter flying time of 14 hours.
Dr Ng said Singapore was also willing to help train Philippine security forces in urban warfare and fighting in built-up areas.SAF has an urban training village to train soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, he said that he has offered this facility to the Philippines.
Singapore is also offering to send a C-130 aircraft to transport humanitarian aid and supplies to people displaced by the fighting in Marawi.
Dr Ng said there is "clear recognition" among Asean's defence ministers that the militants are a "clear and present threat" that they must deal with collectively.
"I do not think any security chief dares to stand up and say my country is immune, and that we will not have that problem," he said.
Dr Ng expressed support for efforts by the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia to stem the flow of weapons, funding and fighters to terrorist groups in the region. When Singapore assumes chairmanship of the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting next year, he said, "we will push it (the anti-terror fight) even harder".