Manila-Philippines have sent light fighters to fly hundreds of Chinese vessels in conflict areas of the South China Sea, the Defense Minister said, and repeatedly demanded that the fleet be withdrawn immediately.
There is growing international concern about what the Philippines has described as a “flock, threatening presence” of more than 200 Chinese vessels, which Manila believes are stationed by maritime militias.
The boat was moored at a whitson reef within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of Manila.
Filipino military aircraft were sent daily to monitor the situation, Secretary of Defense Delphin Lorenzana said in a late Saturday statement.
Lorenzana also said the military would strengthen its presence in the South China Sea, conduct “sovereign patrols” and protect Filipino fishermen.
“Our sky and sea assets are ready to protect our sovereignty and our sovereignty rights,” Lorenzana said.
The Chinese embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Whitson Reef boat was a fishing boat fleeing the rough sea, and the militia was not on board.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reaffirmed that he had won a groundbreaking arbitration proceeding in 2016 against Chinese ambassador Huang Xi Ren.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, China and Vietnam have competing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, with at least $ 3.4 trillion in trade annually.