Navy dismantles foreign wharf found near Palawan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2011 12:01 AM | Updated as of Jul 20 2011 08:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Navy has dismantled another illegal structure near the Kalayaan Islands just off Palawan province.

The military has not identified the country that built it, but promised to be more vigilant in patrolling the country's territorial waters.

In an aerial inspection over the Kalayaan Islands last July 10, by Armed Forces Western Command chief Juancho Sabban noticed a suspicious-looking structure on Sabina Shoal that lies just 70 miles or 113 kilometers off Puerto Princesa.

The area is within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

Sabban said previous naval patrols failed to spot the structure because it is new.

Over the weekend, the Navy towed the structure to Puerto Princesa.

It is believed to be a floating wharf, which could be the start of a bigger structure to be built on the shoal.

Sabban did not say which country built it.

In 1994, while the Philippines wasn't looking, China built a structure on Mischief Reef, which lies just 130 miles from Palawan.

When Manila protested, Beijing said it only served as a shelter for fishermen.

However, China later expanded the structure, which now looks like a military garrison.

Early this year, the Philippine Navy removed markers placed by China near Reed Bank, where oil exploration is being conducted.

The military said it is now more aggressive in monitoring the country's sea borders to prevent a repeat of these incidents.

"(We will) improve our capability to defend our territory so we can call those areas as our own," Sabban said.

China has refused the Philippines' offer to bring the Spratlys dispute to the United Nations. - Report from Ces Oreña-Drilon, ABS-CBN News; ANC