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Philippines finds 2nd Malaysian-occupied reef.

MANILA, Aug. 19 Kyodo

The Philippine military said Thursday that Malaysia has occupied a reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in its second seizure of territory claimed by both countries in the area.

A presidential statement said Manila is formally protesting Malaysia's occupation of Erica, known in the Philippines as Gabriela Silang.

The military said in a report that an aerial survey of the southern part of Kalayaan, which Manila claims as part of its 200-mile exclusive economic zone, showed several Malaysian naval vessels and construction barges docked nearby Erica Reef.

The report said a "nearly completed Malaysian structure" was spotted on the reef, which lies 284 nautical miles west of the southern Philippine city of Puerto Princesa.

It said Malaysia occupied the reef in June, the same time it took control of Investigator Shoal, also claimed by the Philippines.

Manila lodged a protest immediately after the occupation of Investigator Shoal, but the Malaysian presence on Erica Reef was not noticed at the time, the report said.

"We have to protest...to manifest the same concerns (expressed when we first discovered the occupation of Investigator Shoal)," Foreign Undersecretary Lauro Baja said Thursday.

He said Malaysian Charge d' Affaires Badruddin Abdul Rhaman may be summoned to the Foreign Department on Friday.

The Philippines and Malaysia are two of the six claimants to the Spratlys, a cluster of potentially oil and gas-rich reefs and atolls.

The other claimants are China, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei.

Manila claims that Kalayaan is part of its 200-mile exclusive economic zone under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Aug 23, 1999
Words:265
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