President Barack Obama reiterated on Tuesday that the United States' commitment to defend the Philippines is "ironclad", but he again steered clear of delivering this statement directly to China.
"Our commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad, and the United States will keep that commitment because allies never stand alone," he said as he addressed some 200 Filipino and American servicemen a the Philippine Army headquarters just outside Manila.
Mr Obama said that commitment stems from a "mutual defence treaty" the Philippines and the US signed over 60 years ago.
"This treaty means our two nations pledge our common determination to defend themselves against external armed attacks, so that no potential aggressor can be under the illusion that either of them stands alone," he said.
Mr Obama did not mention China or the rising tension between Manila and Beijing over the South China Sea, but he reiterated his message that territorial disputes in the region should be "resolved peacefully and not by intimidation or force".
"We believe that nations and peoples have the right to live in security and peace and have their sovereignty and territorial integrity respected," he said.
"We believe that international law must be upheld, that freedom of navigation must be preserved and commerce must not be impeded."
On Monday, the Philippines and the US signed a 10-year defence pact in one of the clearest signs of renewed American engagement in the region.
The defence pact - the biggest policy achievement to come out of Mr Obama's four-nation tour of Asia - will allow the US to rotate more troops, combat aircraft and warships in the Philippines.