MANILA • The Philippines has hailed what it terms growing international support for its efforts to counter China's claims to most of the South China Sea.
The comments from a presidential spokesman yesterday came as the United States Pacific Fleet released photographs of its commander in a surveillance flight over the sea, where tension is rising between Manila and Beijing.
Mr Herminio Coloma, spokesman for President Benigno Aquino, said "there are additional voices supporting our move for a peaceful resolution to the debate over... the South China Sea".
He said many nations agreed that the dispute "must go through legal process as signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea". "We welcome the growing support for the position of our country," Mr Coloma told reporters, citing the European Union, Australia, Japan and fellow members of the Asean regional bloc.
The Philippines earlier this month argued its case before a UN-backed tribunal at the Hague, challenging China's claim over most of the resource-rich sea.
China, which claims most of the South China Sea, has refused to take part in the proceedings, and has called on the Philippines to agree to bilateral talks instead.
The Philippines, as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan, all have their own claims.
The US Pacific Fleet released photographs on its website yesterday of its commander, Admiral Scott Swift, aboard a US P-8A Poseidon aircraft, flying a "seven- hour maritime surveillance mission" over the South China Sea th day before as part of his recent visit to the Philippines.