The Philippines will invoke its defense treaty with the U.S. if a Filipino soldier dies from a foreign attack, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has said, in remarks that come amid growing tensions with China.

"I think Secretary Austin explained it very well; if any Filipino serviceman is killed by an attack from any foreign power, then that is time to invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty,” Marcos told foreign correspondents in Manila on Monday, referring to his conversation with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last week at the Pentagon.

Marcos’s comments come in the aftermath of a joint summit with U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington last week. They offer clarity on the circumstances that may draw in the U.S. — a treaty ally of the Philippines — as tensions between Manila and Beijing ratchet up over the disputed South China Sea.