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Palace says Sabah standoff not a stumbling block to ASEAN integration
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration does not see the ongoing standoff in Lahad Datu in Sabah a hindrance for the realization of a single community by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by December 2015.

The regional grouping agreed on this last year during a summit in Cambodia to realize the ASEAN Community by 2015.

President Benigno Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak have been in touch with each other on the Sabah crisis and both are working to resolve the issue at the soonest possible time, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang Tuesday.

Hindi po magiging sagabal ito [Sabah]. Nakita natin at the highest level, nag-usap na si Prime Minister Najib at saka ang Pangulong Aquino. Hindi namin ito nakitang isang obstacle,” Lacierda told reporters.

Lacierda said the administration doesn’t believe the Sabah issue would be an obstacle to the ASEAN's goal of achieving a single community by 2015.

The President’s perspective is much broader and he cares not only for the 180 people holed up in Lahad Datu, the Palace spokesman said.

“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.”

The ASEAN Community will be based on three pillars, namely, a security community, an economic community and a socio-cultural community.