AFP belies Joma Sison's claims of 'fake' rebel surrenders

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 7) — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday belied claims made by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Joma Sison that the surrender of some rebels were staged.

"Alam mo, kay Joma lang, sinasabi lang niya yan eh, sa taas lang yon, the problem is, controlled ba nila yung tao nila dito sa baba?" AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bienvenido Datuin said.

The AFP earlier claimed about 2,000 communist rebels and supporters have surrendered to the government since December 2017. It added about 600 of these were New People's Army (NPA) combatants.

The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP, while the National Democratic Front (NDF) is its political arm.

On Tuesday, Sison called the surrenders a joke, branding it as mere government propaganda.

"The Duterte regime looks ridiculous and even funny by staging the fake surrenders of NPA fighters and their supporters," Sison said.

NDF Legal Counsel Edre Olalia also questioned why the government is so keen on destroying the rebel group.

"Kung irrelevant sila, why are you bothered about it, so why don't you just let them be, and they become irrelevant on their own. It only proves it's just a mirage," Olalia said.

The military, however, said it will continue carrying out its anti-insurgency campaign as more rebels have expressed willingness to surrender.

President Rodrigo Duterte has previously tagged the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations.

Under the law, a person found guilty of terrorism will be sentenced to jail for 40 years without parole. Terrorism under the law, includes rebellion, insurrection, murder, and arson, among others.

Duterte ended the on-off negotiations with communist rebels in November 2017, citing a rash of violent attacks by the NPA. It was the first time in 18 years that peace talks had been terminated.

The President previously said he is consulting the military on the possibility of reviving the peace negotiations.

The Duterte government is the sixth administration to try to end the rebels' 48-year-old armed insurgency, the longest-running in Asia.

CNN Philippines' Senior Correspondent David Santos contributed to this report.