"Napagkasunduan natin sa Vietnam na kung ano man yung claims natin sa South China Sea ay hindi dapat mauwi sa gulo yung competing claims so ang sinasabi natin sa Vietnam, maghanap tayo ng paraan para hindi maging tensyonado yung South China Sea ," Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning (PCDSP) Secretary Ricky Carandang said.

Carandang said that Vietnam agreed to the Philippines' proposal to look for ways in which claimants can benefit without contending on issues of sovereignty.

According to Carandang, there is a need to have a common position among ASEAN member-countries about claims to the Spratlys.

"Kasi maliliit na tayong bansa, kapag isa lang yung boses natin sa ASEAN, mas malakas ang magiging influence natin kapag humarap tayo sa ibang bansa sa labas ng ASEAN (We are all small countries so if we have one voice in the ASEAN, we will have a stronger influence when we face other countries outside ASEAN," he said.

"Externally, the ASEAN countries want to have a common position when dealing with countries outside of ASEAN," he said, adding that claiming parties within ASEAN can resolve the issue bilaterally.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, all members of the ASEAN, as well as Taiwan and China, are claiming parts or the whole of the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea. The areas are believed to contain substantial undersea oil reserves.

Manila Bulletin - May 9, 2011