MANILA -- Malacañang said on Wednesday the Chinese vessels suspected to be maritime militia have “no business” near the Philippine-occupied Kota Island, stressing that it will not allow China to intrude on its territorial property.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the government will continue to object on the presence of Chinese vessels even as it has previously filed diplomatic protests.

“We will object to their presence. We have already filed a diplomatic protest and that applies to everything, anything that concern Chinese vessels in our territory,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

“They should (leave), they have no business being there. They cannot be staying there forever,” he added.

Panelo said he will leave it to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to decide whether there was a need to file another note verbale against China.

“I’m sure the Secretary of Foreign Affairs will do that after validating the report,” Panelo said.

“They will know that we are against it, that we will not allow it, that we will not tolerate such presence in our territory,” he added.

Panelo said the continuous presence of Chinese vessels could be considered as “assault” to the country’s sovereignty.

“If they continue to be present in our territory then it is an assault to our sovereignty,” Panelo said.

Despite the decision of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to temporarily shelve an international arbitration court’s verdict nullifying China’s nine-dash line map to give way to friendly bilateral ties, Panelo said the Philippine government will still assert its sovereignty.

“While we remain friendly with respect to trade relations, we will always assert sovereignty when it is being impaired or assaulted,” Panelo said.

Asked if the Palace’s stronger statements against China meant the President would finally assert the country’s win in the sea row, Panelo replied “that’s the President’s call”.

“We will have to let the President decide what action he will undertake,” Panelo added.

Duterte had previously said he would assert the arbitration ruling before he steps down in 2022.

Panelo, meanwhile, said the government will give China “reasonable time” to respond to their protest.

Locsin earlier said the Philippine government has served a "salvo of diplomatic notes" to China over the presence of Chinese vessels near the Pag-asa Island in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

A report from showed that apart from Pag-asa Island, there have also been Chinese vessels monitored near Kota Island and Panata Island.

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to defend the country's sovereignty.

"The DND and AFP stand ready to defend Philippine sovereignty and enforce our laws within our territory. This includes the Municipality of Kalayaan, which is part of the province of Palawan," the DND said in a statement forwarded to reporters Wednesday.

"While we denounce war as an instrument of national policy, we will use whatever resources and means at our disposal to defend our own if and when we are called to action by the National Command Authority," it stressed. (With reports from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)