Military anti-terror group in Davao has drones in its arsenal | Inquirer News

Military anti-terror group in Davao has drones in its arsenal

/ 06:28 PM July 05, 2014

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The commander of Task Force Davao, a military anti-terror group, said here Friday it has acquired drones for use in its counter-terrorism and disaster response operations.

Colonel Alberto Macairog made the disclosure amid suspicions raised by militant groups that the terror alert that Malacañang  relayed to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte last week was a prelude to giving the US military basing rights here.

Duterte had disclosed earlier that the US government was interested in turning the old airport here  into a launching pad for drones.


But Macairog said while TF Davao now has drones, these did not come from the US government, nor were they anywhere as sophisticated as the drones reportedly used by the Central Intelligence Agency to strike targets in such places as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. The task force’s drones are primarily for surveillance.


Macairog would also not say how many drones the task force had.

“First of all, the US is not in any way involved in our drone operations,” Macairog told a press forum at the Task Force Davao headquarters on  Friday.

“In fact, the equipment did not come from the US,” he said, adding that it was supplied by the Army headquarters.

Just the day before, some of the drones were put on display in time for the graduation of a  new batch of soldiers who trained in urban terrain operations.

The drones are about the same size as remote-controlled hobby planes and can be fitted with cameras.

A video obtained by the local ABS-CBN station here showed one of the drones flying. It appeared to be equipped with a camera and Macairog said TF Davao’s drones were similar to it.


Macairog said the US did not have a monopoly on drones.

“All countries are already using this and you can buy this from any country,” he added.

Macairog said the drones will be used mainly for counterterrorism activities and disaster response but not for counterinsurgency.

“We will not use this against the people in Davao City, not even against those who have different ideologies or religious beliefs and those who want to overthrow the government,” he said.

Emmanuel Jaldon, head of the Davao Central 911 communication and emergency response center, said the drones will be of great help in their quick response operation in times of disaster.

“It will greatly increase our quick response capability, as long as we don’t violate any law,” he said, “In times of disasters, drones can be used for rapid assessment and in knowing the extent of the damage; it will allow us to know the topography of the area and will greatly boost security.”

Militant groups earlier expressed doubt  that the public declaration of  terror threats in Davao may have been a ploy to justify drone operations in the city.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the largest public interest law firm in the US, have reported how drones are being used by the US military in targeted killings of people deemed enemies of the state without the benefit  of a court trial.

Sheena Duazo, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Mindanao, has called on Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to stay firm in his stand against drones and against US intervention.

Macairog, however, said Duterte, who is currently on leave, knew about the arrival of the drones here from the Army headquarters in Manila.


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TAGS: Drone, Military

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