Senator Leila M. de Lima is concerned over the medical condition of American paralegal volunteer for the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) Brandon Lee who is in critical condition two months after he was attacked by still-unknown assailant last Aug. 5.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said she is offering special prayers for Lee’s immediate recuperation after he reportedly suffered cardiac arrest during an operation to remove one of the bullets lodged in his body.
“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,” she said.
“Patuloy din po nating ipinagdarasal at ipaglalaban ang hustisya para kay Brandon, at sa lahat ng mga tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao, na biktima ng karahasan, pananakot at pagbabanta sa buhay. Ang kailangan nila ay proteksyon, hindi panggigipit mula sa pamahalaan,” she added.
Lee, Ifugao farmers’ group volunteer and a correspondent of the alternative online paper Northern Dispatch, was reportedly shot by still unidentified assailant in front of his house in Lagawe, Ifugao last Aug. 5.
Lee, a Chinese-American journalist who was raised in the US, was left in coma after he was attacked and shot four times in the body after fetching his child from school on the said day.
To date, Lee, who was also red-tagged by the military in 2015, is said to be in a critical condition and is staying at a hospital in Manila. He has spent the last several years in the country working as a journalist, paralegal, and a human rights activist.
The lady Senator from Bicol said that she hopes that the government could show its genuine concern for Lee and his fellow human rights defenders by promoting human rights and putting a stop on its continued vilification of the defenders of the vulnerable.
“The government places the lives of human rights defenders like Lee in great danger everytime it paints them in a bad light or antagonize their works before the public,” she said.
Amid the continued attacks against rights defenders, De Lima reiterated her call to her colleagues to help her push for the swift passage of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill which she reintroduced as among her first 10 priority measures this 18th Congress.
“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,” she said.
The Human Rights Defenders Protection Bill underscored the obligations of the state and public authorities to respect, promote, protect and fulfill the rights of rights workers by facilitating their activities and work and by refraining from derogatory and unfounded labelling, to name some.