Philippine defense chief asks Chinese flotilla to leave reef

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine defense chief has demanded more than 200 Chinese vessels he said were manned by militias to leave a South China Sea reef claimed by Manila. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Sunday the Chinese flotilla’s presence was a “provocative action of militarizing the area.” A government watchdog overseeing the disputed region said about 220 Chinese vessels were seen moored at Whitsun Reef, which Beijing also claims, on March 7. It released pictures of the vessels lying side by side in the contested reef, which Manila calls Julian Felipe. China, the Philippines and four other governments have been locked in a territorial standoff in the busy waterway for decades