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International groups express condemnation, concern on journalist shooting

By KYLE EDWARD FRANCISCO
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — An international media watchdog and environmental protection institution expressed condemnation and concern on the recent attack against Brandon Lee.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, condemned on Friday, August 9, the shooting of Lee, who writes for Northern Dispatch and a paralegal volunteer of the Ifugao Peasant Movement.

CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative Shawn Crispin urged the authorities to “leave no stone unturned” in their investigation.

“Until President Rodrigo Duterte shows he is serious about protecting journalists, all the talk of investigations will come to nothing and violent attacks on the press will continue,” he said.

The Police Regional Office Cordillera formed a task force to conduct a thorough investigation of the case. To date, the police have yet to release the progress of their work to identify the perpetrators and motive for the attack.

Meanwhile, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature National Committee of The Netherlands (IUCN NL), expressed shocked over the incident. The institution has been working with local organizations in the country to increase the safety of environmental defenders.

The institution said that Brandon is one of their local partners “who stands up for the rights of people and nature.”

“Violence against environmental defenders in the Philippines is increasing at an alarming rate,” said Antoinette Sprenger, Senior Expert Environmental Justice of IUCN NL.

The Philippines recorded the most number of killings of environmental and land defenders in 2018 according to the recent report released by Global Witness. # 

Group reports continuing surveillance on wounded journalist

Brandon Lee, the journalist and human rights activist shot and seriously injured by unidentified assailants in front of his home in Lagawe, Ifugao Tuesday night is being surveiled at the Baguio General Hospital, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said.

“Security guards at the hospital alerted us that a certain George Malidow of the [AFP], introducing himself as from Camp Henry Allen in Baguio, was asking for details about Brandon’s case,” the CHRA said in its alert.

“This was brought to our attention as this is not regular protocol for the AFP to be monitoring and investigating such case,” the group added.

Camp Allen is a military camp in the heart of the Cordilleran capital that once served as the site of the Philippine Military Academy.

Hospitals, meanwhile, are designated neutral zones by human rights statutes and local and international humanitarian organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross/Crescent.

Lee was brought to Baguio last night from Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya after being initially brought to a local hospital in Lagawe after the attack.

The CHRA said Lee is conscious and able to talk but is in need of type O+ blood donations.

He suffered four gunshot wounds on his torso, reports said.

Lee is a United States citizen, married to a Filipino and a permanent resident of the Philippines. They have a seven-year old daughter.

CHRA photo

Red-tagging victim

Lee, a red-tagging victim of the AFP since 2015, is the Ifugao provincial correspondent of the Baguio-based media outfit Northern Dispatch.

He is also a paralegal of the CHRA, the Ifugao Peasant Movement and the Justice and Peace Advocates of Ifugao, all of which have reported threats and harassments by members of the 54th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army for weeks prior to the attack.

The soldiers gathered data by interrogating and intimidating the organizations’ members and staff, the CHRA reported after Lee’s shooting.

The Philippine Army team was headed by a certain 1Lt Karol Jay R. Mendoza while its Civil-Military Operations head is a certain Lt.Col. Narciso B. Nabulneg, Jr. who both invoked President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70 in their interrogations, the group added.

Duterte’s EO 70 issued last December created a task force to combat insurgency that human rights organizations blame for the killing of activists across the country.

Condemnations

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Reps. Eufemia Cullamat and Carlos Isagani Zarate today strongly condemned the attack against Lee, who they describe as “one of the noted volunteers of the Ifugao Peasant Movement and well-loved by the peasant and indigenous peoples in the Cordillera.”

“It seems like that the dark army and mad dogs of the government that are responsible for the killings of thousands in the anti-drug campaign are now after activists, people’s lawyers, community organizers, and other human rights workers,” Zarate said in a statement.

 “Brandon Lee’s assasination attempt is revealing of the type of government that we have when it threatens death to people like him, who serves the poor peasant and indigenous peoples so selflessly. We should not allow this to continue. This madness must stop and should be investigated promptly, and the perpetrators be brought to justice,” the House Deputy Minority Leader said.

The Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) for its part said it holds State security forces that the Duterte administration has let loose in the Cordillera region – the 54th IBPA, the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Northern Luzon Command—acountable for the attack.

‘We urgently call on the people to voice out your concern and call for justice for Brandon and other human rights violations victims. The attacks on human rights defenders must end,” the CPA said.

The group announced it will hold a social media rally on Twitter and Facebook for Lee at five to eight o’clock Wednesday evening using the hashtags #Justice4BrandonLee and #StoptheAttacks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Journalist seriously wounded in gun attack

(Updated: 10:00 pm, August 6)

A journalist and human rights defender is seriously wounded after being shot by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Lagawe, Ifugao at six o’clock tonight, Tuesday, August 6.

Brandon Lee, Ifugao correspondent of Baguio City-based media outfit Northern Dispatch and paralegal volunteer of both the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) and the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM), was immediately taken to a local hospital for treatment.

He was later transferred to a bigger hospital in the neighboring province of Nueva Vizcaya, a source informed Kodao.

In a statement, the CHRA said the 54th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army frequented Lee’s residence as well as the offices of both the IPM and the Justice and Peace Advocates of Ifugao, of which he is also a member, for weeks prior to tonight’s shooting.

The soldiers gathered data by interrogating and intimidating the organizations’ members and staff, the CHRA reported.

The Philippine Army team was headed by a certain 1Lt Karol Jay R. Mendoza while its Civil-Military Operations head is a certain Lt.Col. Narciso B. Nabulneg, Jr. who both invoked President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70 in their interrogations, the group added.

Duterte’s EO 70 issued last December created a task force to combat insurgency that human rights organizations blame for the killing of activists across the country.

In the task force’s launch in Camp Bado Dangwa in La Trinidad, Benguet last May 24, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police jointly identified Ifugao Province as a “priority target in the anti-insurgency campaign.”

Brandon Lee (Photo from his Facebook account)

In 2015, Lee was among the IPM members and staff accused of being New People’s Army members.

Lee’s media outfit, Northern Dispatch, had also been a victim of red-tagging by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

Lee first became Northern Dispatch’s correspondent in 2010.

Other sources told Kodao that Lee’s IPM colleagues are currently under surveillance from unidentified men, preventing them from visiting Lee at the hospital. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ifugao leader killed by military

BAGUIO CITY – Ricardo P. Mayumi, an indigenous people’s leader in Tinoc, Ifugao was killed by suspected state military agents of a hydropower project on March 2, Friday.

Suspected hired goons of the mini hydro project and CAFGUs visited his house several time asking his family the location of Mayumi.

Mayumi was known for being fierce in his stance against destructive energy projects such as the Quadriver and Sta. Clara mini hydropower plants in Tinoc.

He was one with the Kalanguya people of Tinoc in successfully opposing and stalling these projects.

In a statement, the Ifugao Peasant Movement said Mayumi joined several dialogues with the NCIP, DENR, and with Congressman Baguilat, Cotamco, and Umali.

He stood his ground in defending the ancestral land and was repaid with death threats through calls and text messages.

Ten members of the IPM, including Mayumi received death threats using the picture of the gamong, the Ifugao burial blanket suspected to be from the State security forces.

Mayumi attended political prisoners court hearings with William Bugatti, then IPM’s Human Rights Officer. When Bugatti was gunned down after a court hearing, Mayumi was one of the first respondents who stayed with Bugatti’s body while the family was being contacted.

“We call on our kakailian and peace-loving individuals to condemn the killing of Mayumi and join us in seeking justice for Mayumi and all victims of human rights violations. Together let us rise up to fight tyranny and put an end to extrajudicial killings and the culture of impunity that reigns in the country,” said a statement by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance. # (Norwin Gonzales/Northern Dispatch)

Agpayso A Balitok (Real gold)

This is a 2009 Kodao video-documentary produced in the once-remote villages of Didipio, Alimit and Malabing in Kasibu, Nueve Vizcaya. It tells of the people’s resistance against destructive mining operations by the Australian company Oceana Gold.

This film not only chronicles one struggle of the indigenous Ifugao communities in the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya but also dramatizes and probes into the people’s rising resistance in defense of their patrimony and human rights. It shows how a people reclaims its unity and struggle as one to win back a beloved land torn apart by foreign greed and environmental destruction. Read more