Conflicts & War

Philippines sees death of rebel communist leader as opportunity for peace

Manila, Dec 26 (EFE).- The Philippine military said on Monday that the recent death of the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison, opens up a new opportunity to end the conflict with left-wing rebels, the longest in the world.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Medel Aguilar told a local broadcaster that Sison’s death in exile in the Netherlands on Dec. 17, would affect the cohesion of the rebels.

He said the absence of Joma – as Sison was known popularly – is an opportunity for the government to hold a dialog with CPP members and resolve ideological differences.

For long, establishing peace with communist rebels has been a traditional objective of Philippine governments when assuming office, although the few and far between ceasefires have ended without resolving the historic conflict.

The government of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, sworn in on Jun. 30, said soon after coming to power that it aims to boost the stalled peace negotiations between the government and the CPP, whose armed wing, the New People’s Army, had around 3,900 regular fighters in its ranks across the archipelago in 2019.

Sison, who died at the age of 83, had founded the CPP on Dec. 26, 1968 at a bamboo hut in northern Philippines to emulate the Maoist revolution, and in 1969 kicked off an armed insurgency that challenged the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, the current president’s father, among other governments.

The CPP was founded a splinter group of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, established in 1930, which had expelled Sison and his comrades in 1967 for backing an armed rebellion and a revolution of the kind led by Mao Zedong in China.

Sison, who had been included in the United States’ list of terrorists and faced charges in the Philippines for ordering the killings of police and military officers, continued to back armed insurrection against the government from his exile in Europe.

The conflict has killed between 30,000 (Philippine military estimate) and 45,000 people (nonprofits’ estimates) in fighting between the rebels and the security forces, marking the world’s longest continuing communist insurgency.

Sison was a severe critic of former president Rodrigo Duterte, who he had taught once as a teacher, as the latter wanted to annihilate the NPA, declaring the group as a terrorist organization in 2017.

Three rounds of peace negotiations were held during Duterte’s term in office, the latest in 2019, when the president called off talks and ordered the military to annihilate the enemy. EFE


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