Chinese militia vessels were found surrounding an island in the West Philippine Sea, according to Anthony Esguerra's Friday report on Stand for Truth.
CSIS-Asia Maritime Transparency Institute Director Gregory Poling warned the Philippine government of militia vessels guarding the Pag-asa Island.
"China has been deploying dozens, sometimes up to a hundred, militia vessels from nearby Subi Reef to keep an eye on Philippine operations in Pag-asa, sometimes to prevent vessels from getting to Pag-asa," Poling said.
"As a result, the AFP's planned upgrade work -- to fix the runway and build a beach and ramp -- none of that has really moved forward much for over a year now. It's been delayed," he added.
The militia or para-militia vessels are civilian boats from China. According to Poling, the vessels are being used by China as its eyes and ears in the seas.
When sought for comment, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana admitted that "there were presence there intermittently but varying in numbers."
Lorenzana and the Armed Forces of the Philippines declined to further comment.
"Just reminding people that nothing has changed. Since December 2018, nothing has changed. The deployment continues," Poling said.
Meanwhile, former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said China's message is clear.
"So what they've been doing is staying there, loitering, telling us that this is not our territory, this is not Philippine territorial sea. They're actually asserting that they own it," Carpio said.
"And that is violating our Constitution because that's our territorial sea [and] violating international law," he added.
According to Carpio, the government should take action.
"At the very least, we should protest. We should tell our navy to tell something about it because that's our territorial sea," Carpio said.
Watch the video to know more. —Joahna Lei Casilao/LDF, GMA News