A Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef, called Mabini by the Philippines and Chigua by China, at the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Pic: AP.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Two Philippine military officials say China has been reclaiming more land to bolster its military presence in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

The Philippines protested in April after discovering that Chinese dredging ships have reclaimed a large patch of land in Johnson Reef in the Spratlys. President Benigno Aquino III said Thursday he was bothered after seeing surveillance photos of ships capable of reclaiming land in the vicinity of two other Chinese-occupied reefs, called Cuarteron and Gaven, in the Spratlys.

The two military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters, said government surveillance has monitored an ongoing reclamation of land at least in Cuarteron.

Territorial spats have flared in the disputed waters, sparking fears of violent confrontations.