South China Sea
South China Sea

The Philippines has deployed more vessels and aircraft to patrol territories under the country’s control in the disputed South China Sea, a government task force said Wednesday.

Four vessels and an aircraft from the coast guard and five boats from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources were among the additional assets dispatched to augment “sovereignty patrols” in the South China Sea, the national task force said.

The national police’s maritime group was also sending a high-speed watercraft and rubber boats for maritime law enforcement in coast areas near the disputed territories, it added.

The military earlier deployed additional navy ships to the South China Sea after more than 200 Chinese fishing boats were monitored to have amassed off Whitsun Reef, locally known as Julian Felipe Reef, which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines protested the presence of the fishing vessels, which were reportedly manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel. The boats began mooring there in early March, the coast guard said.

But last week only nine Chinese boats were spotted near the reef, and the others have dispersed, the military said.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea as its territory and has built artificial islands with military-capable facilities in the area.

Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims to the area, which is believed to be rich in natural resources.

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