The Philippines has observed an advancement in China’s reclamation at a territory in the disputed West Philippine (South China) Sea and is alarmed over the development, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said Wednesday.

“About 50 percent na tapos na sila, it’s alarming in the sense that it could be used for purposes other than peaceful use,” Catapang told reporters.

“Mayroong isang nire-reclaim na mahaba-haba, about 1 point something or 2 kilometers. Di pa siya developed as an airfield, pero at that span it could be,” the military chief said.

Catapang made the remarks after coming from a command conference with other ranking officers of the Armed Forces in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We continue to monitor what’s happening in the West Philippine Sea, we are appraised on the situation. We know there is still ongoing reclamation,” he said.

The military chief did not specify which territories in the disputed waters are being reclaimed.

Last September, Catapang said in a media forum that reclamations were observed in two reefs in the Kalayaan (Spratly) Island Group.

One of these was on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef, which is inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, he said.

Last May, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said reclamation was also observed on Mabini (Johnson South) Reef, where Philippine authorities believe China could be building a “base.”

Meanwhile, Catapang also revealed on Wednesday that the military continues to spot Chinese ships in Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, another feature in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines is still waiting for the decision of the United Nations’ International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea on the case it filed against China’s claims in the disputed waters, he said. (John Roson)

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