For the past two weeks, 101 Vietnamese boat people rescued from small craft in the South China Sea have been living aboard a U.S. Navy supply ship in Subic Bay, unable to go ashore because of tough new Philippine demands for screening refugees.

Philippine officials, citing growing concern over the influx of South Asian refugees, have announced that they will not allow U.S. warships -- or other vessels -- to leave refugees on their shores unless the country to which the ship is registered can guarantee the individuals will be resettled elsewhere within six months. The problem, according to U.S. officials, is that the Philippine processing system for resettlement requires about a year, a circumstance that Manila is now using to bar boat people.

The result: the USS White Plains, a Navy supply ship, has become temporary home to 101 Vietnamese men, women and children, and a second U.S. warship carrying 155 more refugees is scheduled to arrive in port on Wednesday.

"It's a very difficult situation," said one Navy official. "These people want to get off the ship. They are caught in a maritime purgatory."

Philippine officials, noting that the country has had a liberal policy of providing temporary asylum for refugees, say they now face an overload.

"What we are trying to do is keep the situation in control," said Adolfo Paglimawan, spokesman for the Philippine Embassy here. "We have about 25,000 refugees in the Philippines now. . . . There are at least 3,000 other boat people in line ahead of" the refugees aboard the White Plains.

The dispute is now in the hands of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and the Philippine government, according to State Department officials. Officials said Filipinos are in the midst of their Independence Day celebration and the dispute is unlikely to be resolved before a Wednesday Cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, Navy officials say they are increasingly frustrated by the stalemate as they try to accommodate the refugees with limited berthing, dining and bathroom space aboard the warships.

"What do you do with these people?" sighed one naval official. "You can't bump them ashore and you've got a combatant {ship} that needs to deploy. You're tying up a Navy asset."

The Navy has been particularly sensitive to refugee issues since a Navy captain was convicted last year of dereliction of duty for failing to rescue a boatload of refugees who eventually turned to cannibalism to survive.

Almost three weeks ago, on May 25, the USS Beaufort, a rescue salvage ship, picked up 24 refugees packed into a small wooden boat with little food and no water. Two days later, the ship rescued 77 Vietnamese on a 40-foot boat, according to a Navy spokesman.

The refugees nearly doubled the number of people aboard the Beaufort, which has a crew of 129. The refugees were moved to the White Plains in Subic Bay when the Beaufort received orders to continue previously planned missions.

Over the past weekend, the helicopter carrier USS Peleliu plucked another 155 refugees from a 50-foot vessel in the South China Sea, Navy officials said. The Peleliu is scheduled to arrive at Subic Bay Wednesday.

The White Plains is a major store ship for replenishing U.S. naval vessels.