The Philippine defense chief has reacted guardedly to President Donald Trump's policy on fighting terrorism as enunciated in his first State of the Union address and says Manila will lend its support whenever the efforts of the two nations coincide.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it did not really matter that Trump failed to mention U.S. policy on the South China Sea disputes involving China, the Philippines and four other governments, saying "that's his call."

Lorenzana says: "If our efforts against terrorists coincide, well and good, we cooperate. But in reality each country will be addressing its own security problems by any legal means at its disposal."

The U.S. deployed surveillance aircraft to help Philippine forces quell an Islamic State group-linked siege last year.