MANILA - More than 100 additional vessels were spotted within the country's exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea this month, a geospatial intelligence firm has said, adding that the vessels were "likely Chinese ships".
In its 14-page report released Sunday, US-based Simularity said the number of ships within the country's exclusive economic zone increased from 129 to 238.
"As of June 17, 2021, approximately 238 ships are in the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)," the report read.
Based on satellite images released by Simularity, some 236 ships were detected in Union Banks or Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs, a large, drowned atoll in the center of the Spratly archipelago.
Meanwhile, the number of ships near Gaven Reef in Tizard Bank, decreased from 234 to 71, the company said. The reef is located about 3 nautical miles from the country's EZZ.
Simularity said 11 ships were located in the reef near Thitu Island or Pag-asa Island, which is under the jurisdiction of the Palawan provincial government.
The Philippines has built a town hall, an airstrip, a naval station, a health center and a kindergarten school on the island.
In May, Simularity reported that around 200 ships were still moored at West Philippine Sea.
The American software company, which uses artificial intelligence software and human geospatial intelligence analysts, has been monitoring the supposed incursions since last year.
In response to the report, Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to summon the Chinese ambassador to Manila over the presence of the alleged Chinese ships.
"Instead of de-escalating the tensions in the disputed waters, they doubled down. This clearly shows that China is shamelessly hellbent on aggravating the situation," she said in a statement.
In March, maritime authorities spotted around 200 Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef, which is part of Union Banks -- an incursion that Manila has formally protested against and several countries have sounded alarm on.
Hontiveros also urged Malacañang to condemn China's "incessant presence" in the West Philippine Sea and have a "clear position" against the incursions.
"The Palace should look Beijing straight in the eye and tell her to remove her ships from our territories," she said.