Philippines says illegal structures found on reefs near where Chinese boats gathered

Manila says illegal structures found near where Chinese boats gathered
In this photo provided by the National Task Force-West Philippine Sea, Chinese vessels are moored at Whitsun Reef, South China Sea on March 27, 2021.
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Daily US Times: On Thursday, the Philippines said that it has discovered illegal structures on features in the Union Banks, which the Philippines calls the Pagkakaisa Banks is Whitsun Reef, a series of reefs in the South China Sea. Manila accused this in a time when it says a flotilla of Chinese fishing vessels, allegedly manned by militias, had gathered in recent weeks.

Philippines military said the illegal structures were spotted during maritime patrols conducted on Tuesday, but it did not give more details and precise location as to their construction and as to who erected them or, saying only their presence violated international law.

China has been accused of using its massive fishing fleet to help assert its territorial claims throughout the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea, though Beijing has dismissed accusations it operates maritime militia or irregular naval force, as groundless.

Philippines Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said in a statement: “The Laws of the Sea gives the Philippines indisputable and exclusive rights over the area. These constructions and other activities, economic or otherwise, are prejudicial to peace, good order, and security of our territorial waters.”

“These structures are illegal,” the statement added.

The reef, which is part of the Spratly Islands archipelago, is claimed by both China and the Philippines.

The Philippines maintains that the illegal structures falls inside the country’s exclusive economic zone. A 2016 ruling by a UN tribunal dismissed China’s claim to virtually all of the South China Sea, although Beijing has refused to recognize the decision.

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