Philippines Drone

In June of 2014, Matthew Cua, the founder of SkyEye Inc, was detained by communist rebels in the Philippines’ Mindanao province after flying his company’s unmanned aircrafts over a rebel stronghold. Although Cua was on an anti-logging mission, rebels accused Cua’s company of using drones for surveillance and reconnaissance missions on behalf of the government. Cua points towards U.S. targeted drone strikes in the region as reason for the rebels’ paranoia. “The U.S military complicates work,” said Cua, “it gives drones a bad name.”

The Philippines’ drone regulations were implemented in June 2014. Last month, the Civil Aviation Authority issued its very first Certificate of Authorization for commercial drone use, to SRDP Engineering and Consulting Incorporated, which uses unmanned aircrafts for mapping and surveying purposes. Currently, operators must hold either a flight crew license (or a military equivalent) or an air traffic control license, and provide proof of experience flying drones, in addition to passing through a training course. Operators are required to register their equipment with CAAP.

On April 15th 2015, Philippines Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) in collaboration with the Bureau of Customs started to  regulate the informal importation of drones. Passengers traveling to the Philippines with a drone must secure a clearance and pay a luxury tax of 100,000 Philippines Pesos or approximately $2,200. The drone will be held at the airport until CAAP certification is acquired. The certification is a promissory note signifying the owner will not operate the drone until receiving the proper registration as specified by the CAAP.


In the early 2000s the Philippines military began investing in domestically produced drones. The drones, named after famous pin-up girls of the time—the Rica, Rufa, Alexandra, Assunta, and Claudia—were made from using off-the-shelf components and basic materials such as wood and foam. Speaking on Filipino television, the head designer for the project, OB Mapua, described it as a “DIY project.” The domestic program stemmed from the desire to produce a cheaper home-grown alternative to the more expensive unmanned aircrafts produced abroad. However, the program was halted due to overwhelming corruption in the military siphoning funds from the program. Here are recent developments in the use of drones in Philippines military sphere:

  • In February 2012, the United States used targeted drone strikes to target Abu Sayyafof the Jemaah Islamiyah organization, marking the first time a drone was used in Southeast Asia for a targeted killing operation. The drone was used on the southern island of Jolo, and provoked controversy over national sovereignty, as well as widespread mistrust of unmanned flying aircraft in certain regions.
  • In December 2013, the Philippines army revealed that it had used its indigenous Raptor and Knight Falcon drones in standoffswith the Moro National Liberation Front. Little information is available about these two drones, and their use in this operation was the first publicly acknowledged use of drones in domestic operations by the Philippines army.
  • In February 2015,The Diplomat reported that Lt. Col Harold M. Cabunoc, spokesperson for the Philippines military, had stated that the Philippines was looking to acquire American drones. The statement came after Washington’s recent policy shift allowing for the export of commercial and military drones.


  • Unmanned System Consultingmakes and operates drones for aerial mapping. The company also develops small drone systems for use in humanitarian activities, provides photomapping services, and also provides drone use training.
  • SRDP Consultingwas the first company in the Philippines to be issued a certificate of authority to operate drones commercially. SRDP provides aerial imagery for surveillance, mining, topographical, forestry and agriculture, and disaster prevention/management purposes.
  • SkyEye UAV Servicesproduces drones for anti-logging, real estate, aerial image collection, and emergency services. SkyEye aircraft are not for sale to the public.
    • The Super Surfer Giga has a wingspan of 8 ft and a flight duration of 50 minutes. It is capable of carrying a variety of imaging systems.
    • The X-8 Flying Wing has a wingspan of 7 ft and a flight duration of 50 minutes.
  • In November 2013, during Typhoon Haiyan, drones were used to provide disaster relief. Similarly, in 2014 during Typhoon Hagupit, Aeryon Labs, an Ontario based company, lent several of drones to Global Medic, in order to aid in search and rescue operations.
  • In July 2013, the Filipino government announced it would use unmanned aircraft to fight illegal loggingin the Mindanao provinces of Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley. The region is known as a communist stronghold. Two communist factions, The League of Filipino Students and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, accuse the government of using drones for surveillance purposes rather than monitoring illegal mining.
  • During the Pope’s visit in January 2015 a “no drone” policywas enacted in Cebu City with a fine of between 7,000 to 11,000 USD on violators.
  • In March, the government of Toledo in Cebu province came under scrutinyafter it was revealed that the government paid 800,000 pesos ($17,000) for hobby drones costing 50,000 pesos ($1,000).