The Duterte administration need not rush into joint exploration arrangements with China before Beijing first acknowledges Philippines's sovereignty over its resource-rich territories in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Sen.
At the same time, the Philippines and Vietnam have been pursuing warmer ties with Beijing, which has taken the sting out of an global court ruling a year ago, invalidating China's nine-dash line - the controversial marker it uses to claim most of the South China Sea.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday described them as "some kind of armed garrison".
In this regard, in addition to and without prejudice to other mechanisms, a bilateral consultation mechanism can be useful, which will meet regularly on current and other issues of concern to either side on the South China Sea.
"Duterte also reported that in his meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, they had reaffirmed China's commitments to accelerate infrastructure projects previously agreed upon between the Philippines and China".
The draft of the framework will be submitted during the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Conference to be held in the Philippines in August this year for the foreign ministers' consideration.
"The president can not simply do nothing, or worse acquiesce to China's action, for inaction is the opposite of protecting Philippine EEZ".
A Supreme Court judge called on Saturday for Manila to file an worldwide arbitration case and a complaint with the United Nations over what the country's leader said was a threat of war made by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
On Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in a statement, welcomed the finalization by ASEAN and China senior officials of the draft of the framework of the Code of Conduct (COC).
Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the approval of the COC draft framework means that discussion on measures to work through the South China Sea issue and expand marine cooperation is back on track.
China and ASEAN countries signed the declaration in 2002.
Last year, the Philippines won the case against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.
Indonesia has boosted its military presence in the Natuna islands, which are in the southernmost reaches of the South China Sea, in response to Beijing's assertive posture in the region.
"Before there was a superpower underpinning ASEAN, which made it a more hard strategic calculus for China to play", says Davies.
The South China Sea is one of the world's busiest commercial waterways with more than Dollars 5 trillion worth of world trade shipped through it every year.
"This is the goal of this bilateral consultation mechanism, to discuss issues that are contentious, while we pursue non-contentious issues in other fields", the journalist-turned-ambassador said.