This is the third time that the US Navy has conducted a "freedom of navigation operation" or "fonop" under the Donald Trump presidency.
China has protested against a United States Navy warship sailed in the South China Sea.
In July, a United States warship sailed near a disputed island in the South China Sea claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam. The Philippine military is thought to have monitored the freedom of navigation operation from a marine base located in a marooned ship on a nearby shoal, which sounds like one of the less appealing postings a Filipino marine could draw.
Abella fielded questions on the issue in a news briefing 3 days after Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano echoed China in saying Beijing had stopped its reclamation in the South China Sea in mid-2015, which was disputed by the AMTI photos.
McCain was sent close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, a direct challenge to China's disputed territorial claims to the area.
Under global law, countries can claim territorial sea up to 12 nautical miles from islands under their sovereignty.
Mischief Reef is controlled by China but also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
The collection of islands, which is spread over a period of more than 150,000 square miles, is seen as of great military and territorial significance.
"They called and said "please turn around, you are in our waters", the official said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not commented about the escalating crisis on its website, and its regular news briefings are in summer recess.
China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said the actions of the USS John S. McCain had violated Chinese and worldwide law, "seriously" impairing the country's sovereignty and security.
"However, some parties from outside continue to meddle in the region under the guise of free navigation", Geng said. Nicole Schwegman said all Navy operations "are conducted in accordance with global law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows".
He said the concerns could then be discussed in the future meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) if China indeed proceeds with land reclamation and militarization.
Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the situation in the South China Sea has "stabilized" due to the "joint efforts" of China and neighbouring countries but the USA operation threatened "peace and stability in the region".
Geng reiterated that the U.S. provocation would force China to take further measures to strengthen homeland defense capacity.