China tightens grip on Scarborough Shoal
MANILA, Philippines -- China has continued to erect structures on Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, also called Bajo de Masinloc for the Zambales town to which the disputed maritime territory belongs, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.
“May mga inilagay na kasi silang (Chinese) mga parang bara, boya, para hindi makapasok du’n. Kaya nga ’yun ang isa sa mga punto du’n sa ating pagreklamo sa United Nations (They have put up structures like barriers, buoys, to prevent entry. That is one of the points we raised in complaining to the United Nations),” Gazmin said in an interview.
The Philippines sought UN arbitration following a standoff with the Chinese over Panatag, a rich fishing area some 120 nautical miles off Masinloc, a year ago.
Since then, tensions have continued to rise as China has made more aggressive incursions into disputed territories in the South China Sea, which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea.
The latest tensions have centered around Ayungin Reef in the Spratly Islands, which China has occupied and to which it has deployed a flotilla of fishing vessels escorted by warships.
The Philippines considers Ayungin part of the Kalayaan Island Group, a municipality of Palawan province.