The U.S. says a small Navy drone that washed ashore a small island in the Philippines Sunday was for nothing more than training purposes, but at least one official in the South Pacific country has expressed doubt.
Philippines police inspector Ramilo de Luna said Monday that the orange drone was spotted by fisherman Sunday off the coast of Patnanungan in the Quezon province, located in the northeastern portion of the country, the Philippine Star reported.
The unmanned aircraft had been used for training, not spying, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines said Tuesday. The embassy said the drone was unarmed and used for the naval exercise Valiant Shield 2014 which took place Sept. 15-23 off the coast of Guam, a U.S. territory.
"The aerial target does not carry weapons and is not used for surveillance. The BQM-74E [serial number] Aerial Target is used by surface ships and aircraft during exercises to help train our sailors in a realistic environment that provides the best possible training. During the exercise, all aerial operations were conducted in international airspace or with appropriate coordination and approval in Guam airspace," the embassy said in a statement.
Terry Ridon, a member of the Philippines legislature, questioned whether the drone may have been "surveying the area" to examine the country's oil assets.
“We fear that the U.S. military is exploiting the growing tension in the Philippine Sea to deploy spy planes and warships in our territory. In the guise of protecting the Philippine claim over the disputed shoals and reefs, the U.S. military may in fact be surveying the area to assess the value of its oil and mineral reserves which their country surely has interest in,” Ridon said Tuesday.
“This issue should not pass unnoticed. This is our national sovereignty being trampled right under our noses. Foreign military operations in our seas and skies, even in the guise of support, should be condemned rather than tolerated,” Ridon said.
The drone was loaded into a boat by police Sunday and taken to a nearby police station after local residents reportedly didn't go near it because of fears it might explode, according to the Star.
(H/T: Philippine Star)
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