San Francisco Supervisor Calls on Federal Leaders to Help Inured Activists in Philippines

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Fresh from a recent trip to the Philippines to visit American activist Brandon Lee, seriously injured in a shooting earlier this month, San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney on Friday called on the U.S. government to help Lee flee the country.

Lee, a San Francisco native and environmental activist, was shot multiple times Aug. 6 in the country's Ifugao province, in what his supporters say was an assassination attempt at the hands of the Filipino government. He remains hospitalized in the city of Baguio in critical condition, and has gone into cardiac arrest eight times.

"He is fighting every day and it's important that we fight for him and make sure that he is able to have his security protected, that he doesn't have to worry about his safety as he heals and that his health is put at the forefront," Haney said.

Lee, 37, had moved from San Francisco to the country in 2010 with his wife and daughter to advocate for environmental and indigenous rights. Because of his activism, he was labeled by the Philippine military as an enemy of the state in 2015, according to Lee's family and supporters.

His supporters say the attempted killing was just one of many incidents of human rights violations happening at the hands of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. They're hoping federal leaders will step up to help get Lee medically evacuated, as they say he's not safe in the country.

"He is still in a very precarious position in terms of his safety. He is in a rural hospital in the Philippines," Haney said. "He shares a room with five other people. There have been unknown individuals who have tried to gain access to his room. There are police and military and police who come around on a regular basis, who are concerning and threatening to Brandon and his family."

He added, "It is shameful that a U.S. citizen is out there, currently under threat and not being fully protected by the Philippine government, let alone, adequately by the American government."

Haney said Lee's family has been left on their own to figure out how to transfer him to another hospital and eventually to the U.S.

"He was the target of an assassination attempt, there is no doubt about that. For that reason, this should be of the utmost importance and concern to our federal representatives, to the U.S. government and to this community, to make sure that he is able to come home safely."

A representative with the officer of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Pelosi has been in contact with Lee's family. Pelosi, as well as Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris are all calling for immediate security protections from the U.S. Embassy there and an investigation into his shooting.

Terry Valen, President of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns San Francisco Bay Area, said he met Lee when Lee was a student at San Francisco State University. He described Lee as an "amazing person who gave a lot of himself" and "genuinely cared about people at a basic human level."

He said, "Everybody who knows him knows that he's such a good person to his core."

Lee's supporters have started a GoFundMe account to collect donations to pay for his medical bills. 

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