Philippines is protesting the presence of Chinese militia ships in the area of Philippines-controlled Kota Island (also called Loaita Island) in the West Philippine Sea.
Authorities spotted 15 Chinese vessels which are believed to be part of the Chinese maritime militia. The vessels were loitering about one nautical mile from Loaita Island on March 28. Salvador Panelo, the presidential spokesperson said they objected the ships presence. "We have already filed a diplomatic protest and that applies to everything, anything that concern Chinese vessels in our territory." Panelo insists that Philippines had filed a diplomatic protest on the presence of Chinese ships near Pag-asa Island, but the Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. refused to make it public. The presidential spokesperson reiterated that the Chinese cannot be intruding in their territorial property. The diplomatic protest, he said shows that Philippines will not tolerate the presence of Chinese boats in the country's territory. "They have no business being there. While we remain friendly with respect to trade relations, we will always assert sovereignty when it is being impaired or assaulted."
Earlier this year, the Washington-based think tank Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative revealed satellite photos highlighting that Chinese vessels comprised the largest number of ships operating the Spratly Islands.