MANILA, Philippines - Philippine government ships should return to Scarborough Shoal after they left the area Saturday because of bad weather, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Thursday.
Gazmin, in a phone interview with media, said Philippine ships should return because Chinese vessels have not left the area, contrary to reports.
Six Chinese government ships were seen in the area as of Tuesday, sources said.
"The Chinese are not leaving (the shoal). We have to return," Gazmin said.
"If we do not send personnel to the area, they may invoke occupancy, that may use that as the basis of their claim," he added.
Palace officials said they are assessing the move to deploy Philippine ships anew to Scarborough shoal.