It's been a year since San Francisco native Brandon Lee was shot in the Philippines in a suspected extrajudicial assassination attempt by the Philippine government for his activism in defense of indigenous land. Despite repeated calls by family and supporters in the Bay Area and abroad, pleas for an investigation into the shooting have yet to be answered.
Still, amid international concern over the sweeping authority of a new so-called anti-terrorism law in the Philippines, Lee, an environmental activist from the Sunset District, says he believes it's his duty to continue to advocate against human rights abuses in the Philippines.
"I am believed to be the first American targeted by President [Rodrigo] Duterte's counter-insurgency plan for defending human rights and promoting indigenous people's rights as a community journalist and environmentalist," said Lee at a press conference on Thursday. "However, I can be considered one of the fortunate ones who have survived, because I could've easily been one of the 30,000 fathers, sons, mothers and children who have been killed brutally, mercilessly, with no due process whatsoever."
"That is why despite my permanent injuries, and physical hardship, I believe it is my duty to continue to lend my voice when and where I can," he said.
At the Thursday press conference, Lee called for the end to U.S. military and financial aid to the Philippines through the Philippine Human Rights Act. In April, the U.S. granted $5.3 million in assistance to the Philippines in its fight against COVID-19, but activists fear the Duterte administration has instead used the pandemic as an opportunity to become further militarized.