Filipino residents of the Malaysian state of Sabah arrive with their belongings at the port of Jolo, the capital of Sulu province in southern Philippines early Monday, March 4, 2013 after fleeing Lahad Datu district of Sabah. The brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram of the Sultanate of Sulu has occupied a Malaysian village in Lahad Datu with about 200 of its “Royal Army” followers since Feb. 9. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Mar 5 (Mabuhay) — Malacanang Tuesday gave assurances the Sabah standoff will not affect the planned formation of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community by 2015.

“Hindi po magiging sagabal ito (Sabah standoff). Nakita po natin at the highest level, nag-usap na po si (Malaysian) Prime Minister Najib (Razak) at saka si Pangulong (Benigno) Aquino (III). Hindi ho namin ito nakitang isang obstacle,” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda during the press briefing.

“I think that’s not going to be an issue. That’s the reason why the President… His perspective is much broader. He cares not only for the 180 people in Lahud Datu, he cares not only for the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah, he also has to be concerned with the interest of the 95 million Filipinos here in the Philippines. We have a national interest to protect and to promote,” he noted.

The ASEAN Community was the materialization of full integration in a prosperous and peaceful region marked by increasing interaction in the political and economic fields among the ASEAN nations.

It will be based on three pillars — a security community, an economic community, and a socio-cultural community.

The formation of the ASEAN Community is also expected to lead to the creation of a “single market and production base region” with free flow of goods, services, and capital.

ASEAN member States include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

This year, Brunei will be hosting the ASEAN Summit with its theme “Our People, Our Future Together.” (MNS)