Catapang doesn't want to ruffle China's feathers at this time
MANILA – Newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said 5 to 6 Chinese ships are still roaming around areas in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
"That’s the usual. They are there in Ayungin Shoal, they are also here in Scarborough...And then they're also at Mischief Reef because that became their forward operating base," he said.
Mischief Reef or Panganiban Reef is already occupied by the Chinese, and they gained control over Scarborough Shoal or Panatag Shoal after a standoff with Philippine vessels in 2012.
Meanwhile, Ayungin Shoal or Second Thomas Shoal is being guarded by Filipino troops onboard the BRP Sierra Madre.
The Philippines has been complaining that Chinese vessels are driving away Philippine vessels meant to refurbish the needs of troops in the grounded BRP Sierra Madre.
He said he wants to visit the troops there but there are issues hampering his visit as new AFP chief.
"I want to (visit) but it might become a sensitive issue. I don’t want to unnecessarily make a visit that may not turn out well," he said.
He said the military has submitted a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs on the ongoing reclamation activities by the Chinese.
He did not name the areas, but the Department of National Defense earlier said reclamation activities are being done in Cuarteron or Calderon Reef, Gaven or Burgos Reef, and Johnson South Reef or Mabini Reef.
He said the military has not monitored fresh construction activities there.