(Bloomberg) -- The Philippine military is “very closely” monitoring Beijing’s next move in the South China Sea, vowing to counter any attempt to install new barriers in the disputed waters.

Tensions rose this week after the Philippines’ coast guard, upon President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s order, removed a floating barrier in the Scarborough Shoal that it said was installed by China. Manila said the barrier had prevented Filipino fishermen from entering the area.

“If they do that in Ayungin, we will also have to remove the barriers and we do not have to wait for the order of the president,” said Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, who heads the Philippine military’s Western Command, the unit overseeing the disputed sea.

Carlos was referring to Second Thomas Shoal, where a grounded World War II-era ship serving as a Philippine military outpost, is located. Chinese vessels have attempted to thwart Philippine ships on resupply mission in the area.

The Philippines is finalizing plans for joint patrols with the US in the South China Sea, Carlos also told reporters on the sidelines of a forum Wednesday.

“If there’s no joint patrol yet, we can do a bilateral sail,” which is a much simpler exercise, Carlos said. “The strategic messaging is the same, that we are seen together, that we are working together, that we are supporting each other for the establishment of a rules—based international order.”

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.