Local Officials Calling to Bring Home SF Activist Shot in Philippines

15 min
San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney (right) with Brandon Lee's mother in the Philippines. (Courtesy of Dori Caminong)

San Francisco Supervisors Matt Haney and Gordon Mar introduced a resolution Tuesday supporting the immediate evacuation of a San Francisco activist shot in the Philippines to ensure his safety and immediate access to adequate medical care.

Brandon Lee, a San Francisco native, remains in critical condition in the Philippines after he was shot four times in August.

Lee repeatedly told friends and family of intimidation he received from the Philippine government for his environmental and activist work in the Ifugao province in the Philippines, where he moved in 2010.

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The proposed resolution also urges San Francisco's federal representatives to start a congressional investigation into the shooting and the consequences of United States' aid to the Philippine government.

"Brandon's experience fits a pattern of harassment, intimidation and violence documented by human rights watchdogs," said Mar.

Haney visited Lee in the Philippines in August. He said Lee is believed to be the first U.S. citizen targeted in an extra-judicial assassination attempt by the armed forces of the Philippines under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. Lee was shot outside his home in the Philippines by unknown assailants on Aug. 6.

"What is clear is he was a target of an assassination attempt — there is no doubt about that," Haney said at a press conference Friday. "For that reason,  this should be of the utmost importance and concern to our federal representatives, to the US government, to make sure he can come home safely."

Lee was working as a paralegal, journalist and environmental and human rights advocate for indigenous communities in the Philippines. He became an activist after joining the student activist group League of Filipino Students at San Francisco State, where he graduated.

Local authorities have not identified or arrested the assailant and family members said this leaves Lee in a vulnerable position. Since the attack, Lee suffered eight cardiac arrests. He's now breathing on his own and can mouth responses.

"We are concerned for his safety," said Louise Lee, Brandon's mom. "The assailant is still out there, and could come back to finish the job. I’m hoping the U.S. embassy and other U.S. representatives will be able to help us with medically evacuating Brandon and bringing him back home to San Francisco."

Haney is calling on more lawmakers to bring awareness to Lee's situation in the Philippines, and to help in any way they can to provide medical care and protection.

"It is shameful that a U.S. citizen is out there in this situation currently under threat, and not being fully protected by the Philippines government or let alone adequately by the American government," Haney said.

A representative of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office said they were aware of Lee's situation in the Philippines and that they have been in contact with Lee's family, the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Department of State.

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