Philippine communist leader Jose Maria Sison died Friday evening at the age of 83 after a two-week confinement in a hospital in the Netherlands, his party announced on Saturday.
Sison is the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, whose military wing – the New People’s Army (NPA) – led an armed rebellion in one of the world’s longest running insurgencies.
The conflict between the NPA and the Philippine government has claimed more than 40,000 lives.
“The Filipino proletariat and workers mourn the death of their teacher and guide,” the party said in a statement posted on its website.
The self-exiled communist leader has lived in Europe since the late 1980s, after he was released from prison following the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose namesake son was elected president in elections in May this year.
Sison was put on a US terrorist list in 2002, barring him from travel.
The party said Sison died peacefully around 8:40 p.m. local time on Friday after being confined to hospital in Utrecht. This gave no reason for Sison’s confinement.
“Even though we mourn, we pledge to continue giving all our strength and determination to push forward the revolution, guided by the memory and teachings of the people’s beloved Ka Joma,” the party said.
Sison was also known as Joma and “Ka” means comrade.
President Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, had prioritized ending the conflict when he took office in 2016, but he abandoned peace efforts, infuriated by repeated rebel attacks during the talks.
At its peak, the NPA had 25,000 armed fighters, but it now has about 2,000, according to the army.