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Brandon Lee back in the US

American journalist and human rights activist Brandon Lee is back home in the United States, an official from his home city of San Francisco (California) announced.

“Early Saturday morning, surrounded by friends, family, and community, Sunset native Brandon Lee arrived safely home to San Francisco on a medical transport following the assassination attempt in the Philippines that nearly claimed his life in August,” San Francisco Board of Supervisors District 4 representative Gordon Mar said on his Facebook account.

Mar also posted a photo of well-wishers welcoming Lee at San Francisco.

Lee’s well-wishers welcome him home in San Francisco. (Photo from Gordon Mar’s Facebook post.)

Lee was shot by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Lagawe, Ifugao last August 6, wounding him on his spinal column and face.

Lee was immediately taken to a local hospital after the shooting but was transferred to a bigger hospital in the neighboring province of Nueva Vizcaya.

Within the night, Lee was taken to Baguio General Hospital (BGH), thought to be equipped to deal with Lee’s serious injuries.

He is immobile due to his spinal injury.

While at BGH, Lee was subjected to constant surveillance by suspected Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) operatives.

“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 Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said in an alert five days after the assassination attempt.

Lee was then secretly transferred to St. Lukes Hospital in Taguig City while family and friends raised funds for a medical transport to the USA.

The United States government is said to have refused Lee free medical airlift to California as it is a privilege given only to military and diplomatic personnel.

The medical transport may have cost Lee’s friends and family at least P.6 million, a source said.

A 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), Lee had been repeatedly red-baited by the 54th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army before the attack.

The CHRA blamed the Philippine Army for the attempt on Lee’s life.

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

Mar expressed gratitude to Lee’s San Francisco community who helped bring him home.

“Brandon’s here because of his strength, and the strength of the community and movement that’s lifted up him and the power of his example over these last few months,” Mar said in his post.

“I’m so, so glad to have Brandon back—but we’re not done yet. An outpouring of love and support moved mountains to make this transport happen, but we have mountains yet to move. There’s a ways to go still to cover the costs of Brandon’s care, and much more to be done to address the underlying injustices that led to his attack,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)