VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Joma Sison is NOT dead, denies rumors


Several Facebook (FB) pages falsely claimed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison has died.

FB page Buhay Sundalo – Soldier’s Life (created on May 18, 2019) published on Feb. 7 a photo of Sison with the embossed text “REST IN HELL.” The caption read: “BREAKING NEWS… JOMA SISON, founder ng CPPNPANDF (sic), diumano, patay na… (founder of CPP-NPA-NDF, allegedly, has died).”

Another post carried no photo but said: “NPA leader joma sison Patay na (is dead)… Rest in hell. Matagal mo nang binaboy ang bansa … (You have long ruined the country).”

The death hoax circulated a day before Sison’s 83rd birthday.

Sison is not dead. In a statement, he said those spreading the rumors “are liars.”

“I have no life-threatening illness, only some inflammations on the legs due to rheumatoid arthritis (that) go away in only 2 to 4 days after medication,” Sison said in a statement to VERA Files Fact Check.

Sison founded the CPP in December 1968 and co-founded its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), in March 1969, starting a decades-long insurgency against the national government in order to install a “people’s revolutionary congress” according to the 1968 Program for a People’s Democratic Revolution.

Sison has been living in self-exile in the Netherlands since 1987, fleeing the country after peace negotiations with the government of late president Corazon Aquino failed. Succeeding governments held formal and informal talks with Sison’s group but developments on the ground caused the collapse of these talks.

President Rodrigo Duterte, under Proclamation No. 374, declared the CPP-NPA a terrorist organization in December 2017.

Along with Buhay Sundalo – Soldier’s Life, the untrue claim was spread by the following FB pages: Unsung Filipino Heroes (created Oct. 23, 2015), Team Philippines (July 17, 2016) and Relissa Santos Lucena (July 13, 2020). Their posts have collectively garnered more than 8,330 reactions, 1,530 comments and 2,500 shares.


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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)