June 6, 2014 5:57 am JST

Philippines reports ships around disputed islands

MINORU SATAKE, Nikkei staff writer

MANILA -- President Benigno Aquino said Thursday that the Philippines has discovered ships used to reclaim land for construction off South China Sea reefs claimed by both Manila and Beijing.

     The newly spotted ships were found near the Gaven and Calderon reefs, parts of the disputed Chinese-controlled Spratly Islands.

     While Aquino did not call the vessels Chinese, he noted that they are similar to Chinese ships conducting large-scale land reclamation work on the Johnson South Reef.

     A Philippine Defense Department spokesperson said Chinese ships are carrying out reclamation work on the two reefs.