Philippine communist leader dies at 83

17 Dec 2022 12:07pm
Jose Maria Sison - Maneuvers MotoGraphy Facebook
Jose Maria Sison - Maneuvers MotoGraphy Facebook
MANILA - Jose Maria Sison, who launched one of the world's longest-running Maoist insurgencies, has died at 83, the Communist Party of the Philippines announced Saturday.

The former university professor died in The Netherlands, where he had lived in self-imposed exile since the collapse of peace talks in 1987 when the rebellion that has claimed tens of thousands of lives was at its peak.

"Sison... passed away at around 8:40 p.m. (Philippine time) after two weeks' confinement in a hospital in Utrecht," the party said in a statement, without specifying the cause of death.

"The Filipino proletariat and toiling people grieve the death of their teacher and guiding light."

Sison had hoped to overthrow the government and establish a Maoist-style communist regime that would end "US imperialism" in the former American colony.

The ongoing armed struggle, launched in 1969, grew out of the global communist movement, finding fertile soil in the Philippines' stark rich-poor divide.

The rebellion also benefited from Ferdinand Marcos's 1972-1986 dictatorship, when the legislature was shuttered, the free press muzzled and thousands of opponents tortured or killed.

At its peak in the 1980s, the group boasted about 26,000 fighters, a number the military says has now dwindled to a few thousand.

Since 1986, successive Philippine administrations have held peace talks with the communists through their Netherlands-based political arm, the NDF.
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As the rebellion weakened, party leaders sought to enter a coalition government with former president Rodrigo Duterte.

Peace talks were held in hopes of ending the insurgency, but Duterte cut them off in 2017, declaring the group a terrorist organisation and accusing them of killing police and soldiers while negotiations were under way. - AFP
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