..Philippine and Chinese military ships were recently in a "stand off", off the coast of Zambales, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
DFA said that on Tuesday, a team from BRP Gregorio Del Pilar, a former U.S. military ship, found "large amounts of illegally collected corals, giant clams and live sharks" in one of the Chinese military ships seen in the area.
"The BRP Gregorio Del Pilar later reported that two Chinese maritime surveillance ships identified as Zhonggou Haijian 75 and Zhonggou Haijian 84 managed to sail at the mouth of the Shoal, placing themselves between PF-15 and the eight Chinese fishing vessels, thus preventing the arrest of the erring Chinese fishermen," DFA said.
Earlier on Sunday, a Philippine Navy surveillance aircraft spotted eight Chinese fishing vessels inside Panatag Shoal. BRP Gregorio del Pilar was then dispatched from Palawan to confirm the sighting and "assert Philippine sovereignty and sovereign rights over the area as a responsible coastal state."
The DFA said Panatag Shoal, 124 nautical miles off of Zambales province, is within the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf of the Philippines.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario already reached out to Chinese ambassador Ma Keqing to seek for a diplomatic solution, amid other territorial disputes involving the West Philippine Sea.
Ma had been also invited to come to the DFA Wednesday morning "for further discussion," the DFA said in a statement.