Philippines establishes coast guard outposts in disputed sea
The Philippines has established three coast guard outposts on three islands in the disputed South China Sea to monitor ship movements and promote safety, officials said Friday, amid increasing maritime tensions with China.
The move reinforced the presence of Filipino troops on the islands in the hotly contested Spratly archipelago and will likely be frowned upon by Beijing, which has claimed the disputed waterway virtually in its entirety.
China has protested any new constructions in the region although it has transformed seven disputed reefs into military-guarded island bases in past years, alarming rival claimants and the United States, which has no territorial claims. The U.S. Navy and Air Force have been patrolling the area to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in the contested waters.
Coast guard Adm. Artemio Abu said the outposts on the islands, which were established this week, will be staffed by coast guard personnel and equipped with radio communications to report any incidents. Abu did not specify how many personnel will be stationed at the new outposts but said it's the largest deployment in the disputed region so far.