MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard is inspecting the actual location of about 30 Chinese fishing vessels that arrived in the Spratly Islands over the weekend.
Department of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Raul Hernandez said the government will file a maritime protest against China if the Chinese ships venture inside the Philippines' exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Chinese fleet was spotted near the Yong Shu Reef, escorted by a vessel supposedly under the “Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command.”
"Our Coast Guard is doing our mandate of monitoring our maritime domain and making sure that intrusions are not undertaken by any foreign vessels. Whenever there are intrusions, what we do is to file protest so that it is put on record... and we are protesting those intrusions in our territories and sovereign rights,” he said.
"Yesterday we asked the Coast Guard to check the area to identify location of Chinese fishing vessels,” he added.
The Spratly islands, a potentially oil-rich archipelago, are being claimed by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan.
Hernandez said a United States official is in the country holding discussions with the government on matters of maritime security.
He said they hope to get equipment to help modernize the capability of the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard.
While the United States is not directly taking a side in the Scarborough dispute out of diplomacy, America's military deployment to the Philippines is quiet proof of its support to an ally, US Pinoys for Good Governance chairperson Loida Nicolas-Lewis.
“It's as if the US was saying, ‘China be careful, don't be warmongering, it's going to cost you,’” she said.
She added: “The US fleet is around here, they are sending 60% of their military power. Quietly, they're saying when you shoot the Philippines, nariyan kami."
Amid ongoing efforts to pursue a resolution through diplomatic means, she added her group will call on the Philippine government not to backtrack in its fight for its territories.
The group is calling for a boycott of Chinese products, to voice its protest over the "invasion of made in China products" in the market, and China's alleged intrusion in Philippine waters.
"Tayong mga Filipino, we should show that we are not in favor and [we should] boycott made in China goods,” she said.
"Each one of us is singing the National Anthem, ‘aming ligaya na pag may mangaapi, ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.’ Our territory is being invaded by China. Huwag na tayo mamatay, magboycott nalang tayo,” she added.
"Yes, it's going to affect out banana growers, our pineapple growers, but more is at stake. What is at stake is the Philippines' integrity as a nation, the trillions of dollars (in oil deposits) so we have to take a stand, not just President Aquino or the DFA, 100 million Filipinos have to make a stand. You can do something, boycott made in China products,” she added.
She said the Philippines should look at other countries where it can market its products.
Meantime, Lewis said the Philippines should not be afraid to negotiate with a superpower like China and protect the national interest.
Studies done during the Arroyo administration showed oil or "black gold" estimated to be worth trillions of dollars lies beneath Philippine waters.
"The best way is to allow it to be bidded by all nations, ayaw yan ng China. Gusto nila sila lang...,” she said.
"The Philippines has to negotiate for foreign power to extract oil there. We have to partner and it has to be 50/50, that's the only practical solution,” she added.
The group is also pushing for a global hour of prayer, and calling on all Filipinos to join in prayer at noon on August 21, the anniversary of the death of the late Senator Benigno `Ninoy' Aquino Jr., for peace and justice to reign in the West Philippine Sea.