As China escalated the row over the Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines said it hoped it would not lead to conflict and could be solved in talks.
President Fidel Ramos said in Hong Kong the dispute would be raised in senior officials' meetings with their Chinese counterparts.
Mr Ramos' comments came just 24 hours after he rejected China's claim to the cluster of rocks.
Foreign Affairs Minister Domingo Siazon warned Asia's economic growth and thirst for oil could increase tensions in the South China Sea.
'Our region's mounting demand for oil will focus more attention on - and possibly rivalry over - the South China Sea,' he said.
He proposed extending 'codes of conduct' agreed between the Philippines, China and Vietnam.