MANILA - The Philippine military on Wednesday installed markers on two islands north of Cagayan to assert sovereignty in the country's maritime territory.
The Northern Luzon Command, in a statement, said it placed sovereign markers at Mabaag and Barit Islands in Aparri, Cagayan in addition to the 11 markers installed last year in uninhabited islands north of the province within the Babuyan Channel.
It said the markers were placed in "prominent areas...making them clearly visible to vessels transiting the waterways in the country's northern maritime territory."
"These islands and their surrounding territorial waters are an integral part of the country's territory. Thus, these markers will help us ensure that our sovereignty will be recognized in these areas," said Commodore Caesar Valencia, commander of Naval Forces Northern Luzon.
The maritime territory must be secured as it is a "key source of livelihood due to its abundant marine resources and a strategic trading route to boost our economy," said Lt. Gen. Arnulfo Burgos Jr, commander of Northern Luzon Command.
"Rest assured that we will remain proactive and vigilant in ensuring the security of our people, as we safeguard our sovereignty and preserve the integrity of our national territory in this part of our country," he said.
Philippine Navy Vice Admiral Giovanni Bacordo earlier said the country is repairing several vessels that would be deployed to the West Philippine Sea following China's new law which authorizes its coast guard to fire at foreign vessels and tear down structures built by other countries.
China continues to reject the 2016 ruling of a UN-backed tribunal which invalidates its expansive claims to the disputed South China Sea, where it aggressively built military bases and tested its missiles.