AFP bares China's latest moves in West Philippine Sea

(CNN Philippines) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) lambasted China again on Monday (April 20) over its massive reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.

In a news briefing on Beijing’s continued reclamation works in Subi Shoal and Mischief Reef, Gen. Gregorio Catapang, AFP chief of staff, said there are compelling reasons to denounce China's reclamation activities as it has been increasing tension among the claimant countries and affecting trade and commerce in the area.

"We have compelling reasons to raise our voice to tell the whole world the adverse effects of China’s aggressiveness that has created tensions not only among the countries who have overlapping claims in the area, but also among the countries around the world who are using the international sea lanes in the WPS for trade and commerce," Catapang said.

Another tension brought about by China’s actions on the contested area is the possible military purposes of their construction, which, according to Catapang, only complicates the ongoing territorial row.

"We support the government’s move to protest the ongoing construction works which clearly violated ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct in which the signatories agreed to resolve the territorial dispute peacefully and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes," Catapang said.

With the latest photos shown, the AFP chief expressed his most concern over the reclamation activities in the Mischief Reef and Subi Shoal.

"We call on China to stop the reclamation activities and to be mindful of its responsibilities as a claimant state and an important member of the international community," he added.

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Mischief Reef is around 35 kilometers away from Panatag Shoal where the BRP Sierra Madre is located, while Subi Reef is just across Pag-asa Island, which is the main island among claimed areas of the Philippines in the disputed territories.

The AFP has yet to determine China's purpose in carrying out reclaiming activities in the area, but what it's sure of is that there should be added pressure from the international community to stop China from doing its activities.

Whether deliberate or not, this pronouncement from the Philippine military was done the same day as the official start of Balikatan 2015, joint military exercises between the Philippines and the US.

With more than 11,000 American and Filipino soldiers joining this year's exercises, one of the focus areas would be territorial defense, although local authorities are quick to clarify that the exercises are not a show of force against China.

Australian troops, along with foreign observers, will also be participating in this year's exercises.

CNN Philippines’ Gerg Cahiles and the Philippines News Agency contributed to this report.