Aside from major players China and Japan, the Philippines also claims a number of disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Most recently, the Philippine government sent 800 more Marines to guard Pag-asa, which is part of the Spratly group of islands also wholly or partly claimed by neighbouring China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
The Philippine government insists it is united in its territorial disputes. But a public squabble between policymakers has revealed some problems.
Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan reports from Manila.