Red banners declaring the Philippines a province of China hung on footbridges across Manila on Thursday, the second anniversary of an global court's ruling against Beijing over the disputed South China Sea.
The red banners showing the text "Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China" were reported to have appeared on several footbridges in Quezon City, and near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City in the early morning of July 12.
On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration under the United Nations ruled in favor of the Philippines in its arbitration case against China over the South China Sea.
According to local media outlets, the Philippines authority did not give the permits for the banners to be posted.
Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, who led the Philippines' legal panel in the arbitration case, tweeted that the banners were "Not amusing".
The banners carried the message "Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China", in English and Mandarin.
Some social media users accused the opposition of being behind the banners to discredit the government's increasingly warm ties with China.
The two countries have a bitter history of disputes over maritime sovereignty, but under President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office just two weeks before the Hague ruling, Manila has taken a conciliatory approach and wants China's loans, trade and investments.
Duterte frequently praises Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and in February caused a stir when he jokingly offered the Philippines to Beijing as a province of China.
The Philippines scored an "own goal" in its failure to press China to implement the arbitration ruling, opposition party Akbayan said.
Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, called the banners "absurd" and blamed them on the government's political enemies.