Rights defender who survived slay try flown back to US

By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Kodao Productions / Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Two months after surviving an attempt on his life, journalist and human rights activist Brandon Lee is back home in the United States, an official from his home city of San Francisco (California) announced.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors District 4 representative Gordon Mar said that Lee has arrived safely on early Saturday morning via medical transport.

Lee was shot by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Lagawe, Ifugao last August 6, wounding him on his spinal column and face. He was immediately taken to a local hospital after the shooting but was transferred to a bigger hospital in the neighboring province of Nueva Vizcaya. Within the night, Lee was taken to Baguio General Hospital (BGH), thought to be equipped to deal with Lee’s serious injuries. While at BGH, however, Lee was subjected to constant surveillance by suspected Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) operatives.

Lee was then secretly transferred to St. Lukes Hospital in Taguig City while family and friends raised funds for a medical transport to the USA. The medical transport may have cost Lee’s friends and family at least P600,000, a source said.

A correspondent of Baguio City-based media outfit Northern Dispatch and paralegal volunteer of both the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM), Lee had been repeatedly tagged by the 54th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army as a communist.

Mar expressed gratitude to Lee’s San Francisco community who helped bring him home.

“I’m so, so glad to have Brandon back—but we’re not done yet. An outpouring of love and support moved mountains to make this transport happen, but we have mountains yet to move. There’s a ways to go still to cover the costs of Brandon’s care, and much more to be done to address the underlying injustices that led to his attack,” he added.

Lee is a United States citizen, married to a Filipino and a permanent resident of the Philippines. They have a seven-year old daughter. ()

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