The US on March 13 hands over six surveillance drones to the Philippines (Photo: Reuters) Hanoi (VNA) – The US on March 13 handed over six surveillance drones to the Philippines in a bid to enhance the Southeast Asian country’s ability to cope with threats from jihadist militants and respond to natural disasters. The Boeing Insitu ScanEagle drones are equipped with two cameras and can fly for 24 hours on a single run. They were financed through a 13.7 million USD grant from the US’s foreign military assistance programme. Last year, the US also transferred two single-engine surveillance planes to the Philippines. The country plans to deploy the drones for surveillance against militants and pirates, and for surveying the aftermath of natural disasters like typhoons, mudslides and earthquakes. The US is one of the most important military partners of the Philippines. The two nations signed a decades-old treaty alliance deal and numerous pacts that enable rotational deployment of US troops and annual joint exercises. However, bilateral relations are facing a range of difficulties due to differences on many issues between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his US counterpart Donald Trump./.