More than 200 Filipinos have voted on a Philippine-occupied island in the disputed South China Sea with the mayor saying the elections proved Manila has sovereignty in the far-flung off-shore area.

Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon says the elections on Thitu Island in the Spratlys chain may have been the most peaceful in the country because of its zero-crime record. Aside from Bito-onon, two other candidates are contesting the mayoralty post in Monday's elections.

"This is an exercise of ownership of this regime of islands," Bito-onon told The Associated Press by cellphone from the island Filipinos call Pag-asa, Tagalog for hope. "This is the most peaceful election. All of us are friends and the place is very laid back."