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Philippines protests presence of Chinese warship, fishing boats in disputed Spratly Islands

The Philippines has protested the presence of a Chinese warship and other vessels off a Filipino military-occupied shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said Tuesday the Philippines denounced the "provocative and illegal presence" of Beijing's ships off Ayungin Shoal in the South China Sea.

Spokesman Raul Hernandez said the complaint was filed two weeks ago at the Chinese Embassy in Manila. It called the shoal "an integral part of our national territory."

Dozens of Chinese fishing boats were also sighted nearby.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin says another protest might be lodged if authorities can confirm that two ships which chased a Philippine official's ferry boat last week near Ayungin were Chinese government vessels.

It's the latest territorial rift between the Asian neighbors.