MANILA - Only one Chinese government vessel is left in the Ayungin Shoal as of Tuesday, the Philippine Navy said.
Navy spokesman on West Philippine Sea issue Col. Edgard Arevalo said that "vessels sighted in Ayungin come and go."
As of May 21, only a Chinese Maritime Surveillance vessel remained, he said.
“They (fishing boats and escorts) may have been seen before (but) as of yesterday, they saw only one,” he said.
The Navy provides daily reports to the Department of National Defense.
"The Navy's defense and security mandate to patrol our seas and secure and defend our territories are well-settled under the Philippine Constitution," he noted.
"In case of Ayungin Shoal, we have boots on the ground that guard it. They monitor the developments in and its periphery round the clock. The same is true with other Navy-occupied territories in the West Philippine Sea," he assured.
The Philippines already filed a diplomatic protest against China last May 10.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul Hernandez said the protest “is because we believe that Ayungin is an integral part of our national territory.”
He said the reef, off Kalayaan town in Palawan, is within the country’s exclusive economic zone and is thus covered by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Earlier, two maritime surveillance ships and one warship were found in the area besides the fishing vessels that are already allegedly poaching the country’s resources.