President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his strong resolve to move the peace process with the communist rebels following a meeting with Norwegian facilitators in Malacanang Friday.
The President received the members of the Royal Norwegian government as well as the team of facilitators in a courtesy call at the Palace, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Saturday in a radio interview over government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
"The President spoke about his resolve to move the peace process forward. Alam naman natin na medyo naaantala ng kaunti ang peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front)," Valte said.
"Maganda naman ang pagtanggap ng mga facilitators at positive ang kanilang response. The facilitators expressed that they felt that now is a good time to move the peace process forward," she added.
Government peace panel chair Alexander Padilla said in a forum this week that the public must "guard and support" the peace negotiations with the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Despite the challenges in the peace talks with the communists, Padilla said the government remains optimistic that a final negotiated political settlement will be completed and implemented during the term of President Aquino.
One of the contentious issues is the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as the insurgents insist for the release of political prisoners who they claim work as "consultants."
JASIG allows negotiators or consultants to freely discuss and move without the threat of being arrested.
It remains the biggest challenge in the talks, Padilla said.
The NDF claims that these political prisoners arrested by government security forces are covered by the JASIG.