BRANDON Lee, Northern Dispatch (Nordis) correspondent, was shot August 6, Tuesday, 6 p.m. by unidentified assailants in front of his house in Lagawe, Province of Ifugao.
Lee had just fetched his daughter from school when the attack happened.
He is still confined at the hospital as of Wednesday, fighting for his life.
Lee, 37, a United States citizen with permanent residence in the Philippines, works as a paralegal volunteer for the Ifugao Peasant Movement and writes for Nordis, an online news portal.
Nordis in a statement said it was Lee’s human rights advocacy and profound commitment to serve the marginalized communities in the Cordillera that made him an effective reporter. His contributions reflected the kind of stories that Nordis has existed to publish and popularize – the struggles of the common folk and the wonders of the countryside.
“This incident strikes the deepest concern that our outfit have long expressed that red-tagging will eventually result to attacks against our correspondents and staff. For years, state agents and offices labeled Nordis of being a media outfit connected with the underground communist movement,” the statement added.
Nordis said “our staff and columnists across Northern Luzon are under attack. Singled out by the state for their immersion and reportage of the people’s fight against corporate greed, usury and land-grabbing, militarization and rights violations, corruption and other ills of society. They are branded as communist sympathizers and members for writing the truth and popularizing the strength of the poor and marginalize.”
With the all-out vilification and violent attack against individuals and institutions critical to the Duterte administration, the attacks have in fact escalated from threats, arrest and detention, to shooting and killing.
Nordis managing editor, Sherwin De Vera and Randy Malayao were also included in the list of individuals the Department of Justice accused of being members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.
It was in 2017 when police arrested and detained De Vera for alleged rebellion charges while Malayao was slain in January this year.
Nordis has called for the immediate investigation and arrest of the perpetrators and urges the media community to insure the transparency and integrity of investigation to bring justice for Brandon his clan and community.
Nordis also asked the government “to stop its malicious and dangerous red-tagging of media practitioners, outfits and organizations. Let us be united not only on the fight for a free press but for the right to life of each individual, united on the call to stop the attacks, stop the killings and no to tyranny.”
Meanwhile, Police Brigadier General Israel Ephraim Dickson, regional director of the Police Regional Office–Cordillera (PRO-COR) immediately ordered the activation of the Provincial Special Investigation Task Group (PSITG) led by the provincial director of Ifugao under the direct supervision of PRO-COR’s deputy director for operations Colonel Mafelin Bazar.
“The activation of the PSITG will focus on the speedy in depth investigation and case build up, aside from the immediate identification of the perpetrators and to determine the motive of the shooting,” Dickson said.
Dickson said the importance of immediately resolving the case to give justice to Lee and his family. (With a report from Jonathan Llanes)