Sabban said he deployed an OV-10 bomber plane and an Islander light aircraft to the Reed Bank to undertake surveillance after the Philippine ship radioed his command that two suspected Chinese patrol boats approached and ordered it to leave the area.
When the planes reached the area, the foreign vessels have left, he said.
"It's clearly our territory," Sabban told the AP. "If they'll bully us, well, even children will fight back."
Indeed, the fight may be a case of a child versus a kung fu master and the trophy is an area considered to be rich in oil deposits.
The Reed Bank lies between the Philippines' offshore Malampaya gas field and the disputed Spratly archipelago, a South China Sea chain claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Unfortunately, the Philippines lacks the brawn to defend its claim on these disputed territories. In response to an earlier incident involving the construction of a "lighthouse" on Subi Reef which is an area also claimed by the Philippines but currently occupied by Chinese military personel, Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon had this to say:
"Whatever we will do will have to be backed up by some mobilization of certain diplomatic, political and even military force but do we have any of those?"
In recent months, the Philippines had stumbled through several high-profile diplomatic gaffes that severely undermined its bargaining leverage in matters that involve three key states of "Greater China" -- Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China. Despite the Philippine government requesting the Chinese Embassy for an explanation, no comment has so far been issued by any embassy official at the time the Associated Press report on the subject was released.