San Francisco folks raising funds to bring home activist shot in Ifugao

BAGUIO, Philippines (UPDATED) – The family, friends, and colleagues in San Francisco of Brandon Lee, the paralegal volunteer for Ifugao farmers who was shot by unknown assailants last August, are raising funds to pay for his airlift to the United States. 

An American citizen, Lee settled in Lagawe, Ifugao, when he married a native. He had since done volunteer work with the Ifugao Peasant Movement. He was red-tagged by the military in 2015.

Last August 6, he was shot in front of his house. The regional police in the Cordillera have created a special task force that will investigate the shooting

Bernice Lee, the wife of Brandon, said he had survived 8 cardiac arrests and had to be transferred to another hospital, which the family asked not to be divulged. He has been conscious but the doctors needed to stabilize his health.   

Bernice said they are waiting for him to be flown back to the US for his safety and for better medical treatment.

“I know that if he had his way he would not want to go back to the US, but our priority now is his safety and recovery,” she said.

Brandon was already cleared by his doctors to be airlifted to the US. His transportation costs, however, could reach $200,000.  

Family and friends have put up an online fundraiser at http://gofundme.com/save-brandon-lee for people willing to donate. 

The San Francisco Committee on Human Rights for the Philippines (SFCHRP), a human rights advocacy group, posted an urgent alert on its social media account condemning the attack against Brandon and calling for donations for his transportation expenses back to the US.

The group urged San Francisco folks to urge their local representatives to push House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to help fund Brandon’s airlift. 

The US government is not transporting Brandon because he is not a diplomat or military personnel.

But the group said the US government should help Brandon because he has “dedicated his life to serving the people and serving the planet.”

“We want to pressure our representatives to do what is right and to help fund Brandon’s safe passage back to the Bay Area,” the SFCHRP said.

In a statement, Senator Leila de Lima wrote, "I am hoping and praying for the complete and speedy recovery of Mr. Brandon Lee, who dedicated his life in fighting for the rights of persons belonging to cultural minorities."

"Human rights workers in the Philippines do not deserve to suffer while they fight for the rights of others. Government policies should both support their work and ensure accountability for violations of their rights and freedoms," De Lima added. Rappler.com