FORMER President Rodrigo Duterte said the death of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison marks the end of an era which can also bring insurgencies in the Philippines to an end.

In a statement, Duterte expressed condolences to Sison’s family as he also prayed for his peace and the country as well.

“Mr. Sison is known for his radical ideas that affected the course of our country’s history and birthed a movement that carries on to this day. While Mr. Sison and I have had many disagreements — especially in the ways in which he chose to pursue and effect change in the country — I would like to believe that, at the end of the day, we shared the same dream of creating a better future for every Filipino,” he said.

“His death certainly marks the end of an era and it is my hope that, with it, the end of insurgencies in the Philippines and the revolutionary movement that he has founded as well. As we move on from his passing, let us carry on the work of building a more harmonious and more united country for the present and future generations,” he added.

On Saturday, Dec. 17, CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena confirmed Sison’s death following a two-week confinement in a hospital in the Netherlands. He was 83.

Duterte was a student of Sison at the Lyceum University where the former graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, major in Political Science, degree in 1968.

On Dec. 26 in the same year, Sison established the leftist revolutionary movement CPP.

Before he ran for the presidency, Duterte was named as the most outstanding alumni by Lyceum.

Duterte, in his speech, said “he was enticed to enrol in the school because he wanted to study” under Sison, the Lava brothers (all members of the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas) and Jose David Lapuz, the news site Politiko ( reported in 2015.

Politiko reported that although Duterte chose not to become a full-fledged communist, Duterte said what he learned at LPU helped him talk with the NPA and respect revolutionaries.”

Sison, in one of his interviews, said Duterte was a member of the militant youth group Kabataang Makabayan, which the former President acknowledged.

When he was Davao City mayor, the former President had a goodwill with the communist rebels in his area.

After he won the presidency in 2016, Duterte was seen as the country’s best hope to usher in peace between the government and the communists.

However, Duterte’s relationship with the Left broke down because of the continued attacks on government troops and civilians by the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

‘Crumbling CPP’

For its part, the Department of the National Defense (DND) said Sison’s passing is a symbol of the crumbling hierarchy of the CPP and its armed wing, the NPA, and political arm, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

It said Sison is the “greatest stumbling block” of peace for the Philippines, hoping that it will give the country a chance for peace.

It said the five decades of brutal and bloody aggression of the organization against the state and the people have led to nothing but destruction and strife for thousands of Filipinos.

“His death deprived the Filipino people of the opportunity to bring this fugitive to justice under our country’s laws. Sison was responsible for the deaths of thousands of our countrymen. Innocent civilians, soldiers, police, child and youth combatants died because of his bidding,” the DND said.

“We call 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,” it added. (TPM, KAL / SunStar Philippines)