The Communist Party of the Philippines said on Saturday that Jose Maria Sison, the leader of one of the longest-running Maoist insurgencies in history, passed away at 83.
The former university professor passed away in The Netherlands, where he had lived in self-imposed exile ever since the peace negotiations broke down in 1987, at the height of the uprising that claimed tens of thousands of lives.
The party released a statement stating, “Sison… died away at roughly 8:40 p.m. (Philippine time) after two weeks of confinement in a hospital in Utrecht.
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“The passing of their teacher and guiding light is mourned by the Filipino proletariat and laboring people.”
To end “US imperialism” in the former American colony, Sison wanted to topple the government and install a communist state in the Maoist tradition.
Out of the global communist movement, the continuous military conflict began in 1969 and found fertile ground in the Philippines’ glaring rich-poor split.
The dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, which ruled from 1972 to 1986 and shut down the legislature, restrained the free press, and tortured or killed hundreds of opponents, also aided the uprising.
The military claims that the gang has shrunk to a few thousand fighters from the 26,000 it once boasted at its height in the 1980s.
Through the NDF, the communists’ political wing in the Netherlands, successive Philippine administrations have negotiated peace with them since 1986.
Party leaders wanted to establish a coalition government with former president Rodrigo Duterte as the uprising waned.
Aiming to put an end to the insurgency, peace talks were held. Still, Duterte ended them in 2017 after branding the group a terrorist organization and accusing them of murdering law enforcement and military personnel while discussions were ongoing.