MANILA, Philippines - Chinese government ships have remained at the disputed Scarborough Shoal that the Philippines and China are claiming, a military source said Tuesday.
Two Chinese Maritime Surveillance ships and a Fisheries Law Enforcement Command ship have been seen in the shoal, which Manila also calls as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc.
"That (information on the three Chinese ships) is as of yesterday. We have no information of fishing vessels but we know that they come and go," the source said.
Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos said the Scarborough Shoal dispute show the need to strengthen the Philippines' defense capabilities.
"We are not wavering on our commitment to uphold the integrity and sovereignty of our national territory. That’s why we are gearing for modernization and upgrading of our equipment so that we would be able to acquire that minimum credible defense posture," Burgos said Tuesday.
“Our Navy keeps on patrolling, those units concerned are still conducting monitoring and surveillance. We are also upgrading our two Coast Watch stations,” he added.
President Benigno Aquino, during his State of the Nation Address on Monday, said the Philippines will not give up its claim on Scarborough Shoal.
"Mayroon po tayong mga miron na nagsasabing hayaan na lang ang Bajo de Masinloc; umiwas na lang tayo. Pero kung may pumasok sa inyong bakuran at sinabing sa kanya na ang kanyang kinatatayuan ay sa kanya na, papayag ba kayo? Hindi naman po yata tamang ipamigay na lang natin sa iba ang sadyang atin talaga," he said.
Aquino also discussed the Armed Forces ongoing modernization program under his administration.
He said since July 2010, the government has allocated a total of P28.4 billion and released P17.3 billion for the program, compared to the P33.6 billion released during the three previous administrations.
The military is benefiting from 21 ongoing modernization projects that include acquisition of 4 new combat utility helicopters, 2 Coast Guard cutters, and a coast watch system upgrade.
In 2013, the Armed Forces is set to get several multi-purpose attack craft, 10 attack helicopters, 2 naval helicopters, 2 light lift aircraft, and a frigate.