JOSE Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has passed away after being confined for two weeks in a hospital in the Netherlands where he was in exile for years. He was 83.
Sison died around 8:40 p.m., Friday, December 16, according to the information relayed through an email account of CPP chief information officer Marco Balbuena.
He said the “Filipino proletariat and toiling people grieve the death of their teacher and guiding light.”
Balbuena added that the entire CPP will give the highest possible tribute to its founding chairman, “great Marxist-Leninist-Maoist thinker, patriot, internationalist and revolutionary leader.”
‘A new era dawns’
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that its disagreement with Sison ended with his death.
“We may have an opposing stance on the methodology he adopted to effect societal reforms but still, we pay our respect to the dead and extend our sincere condolences to his bereaved family, ” the AFP said.
“Let us now all pray for peace to reign in our country, ” it added.
Col. Medel Aguilar, AFP spokesman, meanwhile, said the death of Sison will surely weaken the underground movement.
“The loss of a ‘teacher’ and ‘guiding light’ leaves the organization with no purpose and clear direction,” he said.
He said the organization needs to have “a good teacher and guiding light who will lead its members away from violence and destruction.”
Arsenio Andolong, Department of National Defense’s public information officer and spokesman, said that Sison’s death is but a symbol of the crumbling hierarchy of the CPP- National Democratic Front and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, which he founded to violently put himself in power.
“His death deprived the Filipino people of the opportunity to bring this fugitive to justice under our country’s laws,” Andolong said.
“Sison was responsible for the deaths of thousands of our countrymen. Innocent civilians, soldiers, police, child and youth combatants died because of his bidding,” he added.
The Defense spokesman called on the remaining few believers, “who have unwittingly turned themselves into the enemy of the people, still blinded by Sison’s duplicitous and failed promises,” to turn their backs on the violent and false ideology of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
The DND official said further that five decades of brutal and bloody aggression against the state and the Filipino people have led to nothing but destruction and strife for thousands of Filipinos.
“A new era without Jose Maria Sison dawns for the Philippines, and we will all be better for it. The greatest stumbling block of peace for the Philippines is gone; let us now give peace a chance,” Andolong said.Former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) spokesman Lorraine Badoy was less sympathetic.
“Death is too good for this evil communist terrorist. I bitterly spit this one out. How I wanted so badly to, at the very least, kick his ugly face in. I take great comfort at the thought that he saw the start of the end of his evil empire and he saw it crumbling via the NTF-Elcac and that we cut him to size and sent him to his grave,” she wrote on Facebook.
Bagona Alyansang Makabayan head Renato Reyes, in a tweet on Saturday, said Sison’s legacy was “the profound understanding and exposition of the problems of Philippine society. Second is establishing a movement that would address those social issues. It was never enough to interpret the world. The point always was to change it.”
“The entire revolutionary forces in Southern Mindanao pay our highest revolutionary tribute to CPP founder, Ka Jose Maria Sison for his immeasurable contribution to the national democratic revolution,” wrote the NDF-Southern Mindanao executive council’s publication, Pasabilis.
Who is Joma Sison?
Sison was born in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur on Feb. 8, 1939.
A graduate of literature from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1959, Sison, then a literature professor, founded the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964, alongside Nilo Tayag, who was involved in the 1970 First Quarter Storm against then president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr.
He founded the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Dec. 26, 1968, from the First Great Rectification Movement that criticized the 1930-era Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas. The current CPP is currently designated as a terrorist group by the government of the United States, along with the NPA.
Sison was imprisoned from 1977 to 1986. Since 1987, he had been living in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. In 1992, Sison and National Democratic Front (NDF) negotiator Luis Jalandoni had an ideological campaign called the Second Great Rectification Movement, which split the Filipino Left in the 1990s.
On Aug. 28, 2007, Sison was arrested in the Netherlands for the deaths of three people between 2003 and 2006. He was released on Sept. 13, 2007.
In 2016, Sison, who also served as chairman of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles and then president Rodrigo Duterte were awarded the Gawad Supremo award, as part of their efforts to revive peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Communist rebels, with mediation from the Royal Norwegian Government. However, the relationship soured in 2017 when Duterte branded Sison and the CPP-NPA-NDF as a terrorist organization.
Before his death, Sison served as the NDF’s chief political consultant.