Billionaire Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) will launch its satellite broadband service in the Philippines, a first in Southeast Asia, the trade secretary said on Thursday.

* SpaceX's business permit application is being processed while the company scouts locations for its gateways, said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

* The company is setting up a wholly-owned subsidiary in the Southeast Asian country, and aiming to deploy three gateways in the first phase of their launch.

* Lopez did not specify a timeline or investment figure for the launch.

* SpaceX's Starlink uses a network of more than 1,400 satellites to provide internet access to far-flung regions or when communications are disrupted during natural disasters.

* SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)