Issue of August 11, 2019
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PNP probes shooting of American HR helper
by Ofelia C. Empian

A CALL FOR JUSTICE -- The attempted killing of American human rights volunteer Brandon Lee in Lagawe, Ifugao on Aug. 5 has drawn international media attention with human rights advocates calling on the authorities to cause the arrest of the suspects. -- Contributed photo

The Police Regional Office-Cordillera has formed a special investigation task group (SITG) to investigate the shooting of an American human rights defender and provincial correspondent of Northern Dispatch by unknown assailants outside his home in Tungngod, Lagawe, Ifugao on Aug. 5.

PRO-Cor condemned the shooting incident as it ordered the SITG led by the director of Ifugao Provincial Police Office to cause the immediate identification of the perpetrators.

American citizen Brandon Lee, 37, remains in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound on his face that exited through his neck and another bullet that entered through his left back that exited to his middle back.

Lee, who is of Chinese descent, has just fetched his daughter from school when he was attacked.

He was rushed to Lagawe Hospital after the shooting incident, was transferred to Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, and finally to the Baguio General Hospital where he is recuperating.
He has survived three cardiac arrests during operation.

Lee is a volunteer for the Ifugao Peasant Movement as a paralegal since 2010.

He became the Ifugao correspondent for the Baguio-based Northern Dispatch online news in the same year.

Since working with the IP rights group, Lee has been accused by the military as a supporter of the New People’s Army.

In 2015, he was among the human rights defenders who received a traditional burial blanket in Ifugao after the military red-tagged them.

Also vilified and threatened in the same manner was Ricardo Mayumi who was  killed in March 2018, and William Bugatti, also of IPM, who was killed in March 2014.

Commission on Human Rights Spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, in a statement on Aug. 9, said there’s a need to stop the constant attacks on country’s human rights defenders.

“The CHR strongly condemns the recent shooting of Lee. We cannot continue to allow a culture of violence to fester in our society. Whether they are activists, lawyers, or government workers, it is important that they can do their work and exist without risk of violence at every turn,” the agency said.

Along with other local, national and international groups, Nordis also condemned the attempted killing of Lee, who is described as an efficient correspondent reporting on the struggle of the marginalized communities in the Cordillera because of his human rights advocacy and commitment to serve the community.

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