American Volunteer Branded ‘Enemy of State’ and Shot Outside His Home in the Philippines

(From, August 8, 2019)

“An American human rights volunteer is reportedly in critical condition after he was shot four times in the Philippines.

Brandon Lee, 37, was attacked outside his home in Ifugao province in the northern Philippines on Tuesday after he was called an “enemy of the state” on social media, reports the Guardian.

Lee suffered cardiac arrest during a surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his jaw.

Lee is a volunteer for Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM), a farmers’ group that actively opposes a hydropower project and the military presence in the Cordillera region, according to the Guardian. In 2008, an IPM staff member was killed in a similar attack.

Lee and other IPM staff had were labeled “enemy of the state” in posters that were put up around the province.

Another rights group, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, where Lee also volunteers, blamed authorities for the attack.

“We hold accountable the state security forces that the Duterte administration has let loose in the Cordillera region,” the group said in a statement, according to the Guardian. The group also said that Lee had been receiving threats before the attack.”

Read the statement of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance here.


Three years into the Philippine government’s “war on drugs,” extrajudicial executions at the hands of the police and their associates continue. The vast majority of those who have been targeted are poor and marginalised people. Amid constant incitement from the highest levels of government and rampant impunity, only one unlawful killing, that of a 17 year old, has resulted in the prosecution and conviction of police officers. The international community must push for an independent investigation to put an end to these crimes and provide justice and reparations for countless families and victims. Read the full report here.



On 22 April, Cristina Palabay of Philippines-based human rights alliance Karapatan received a text message from an unidentified person, sent to her personal number, warning her and several other individuals that they are targeted to be killed this year. Amid the threats against Palabay, on 30 May the Supreme Court directed the government to give access to information of Palabay and other human rights defenders in hope to protect their right to life, liberty and security. Take Action here.



Maria Ressa, human rights defender and executive editor of online news outlet Rappler, was arrested again on 29 March for allegedly violating the Philippines’ Anti-Dummy Law, which punishes Filipinos who allow their names or citizenship to be used to evade laws on the nationalization of certain rights, franchises or privileges. Ressa was released several hours later after posting bail of PhP90,000 (approx. USD1,700); this was the second time she has been arrested in a matter of weeks. Read the full report here. Take Action here.



Amnesty International remains deeply concerned by the continued detention of prisoner of conscience Senator Leila de Lima on politically motivated charges, based on unsubstantiated statements of people convicted for drug-related offenses. Amnesty International considers the targeting of Senator de Lima by the authorities as a blatant attempt to silence one of the most prominent critics of the violent ‘war on drugs’ and bar her from participating in public life. Read the report here. Take Action here.


for more information, please contact:

Dr. Nerve V. Macaspac

Country Specialist for the Philippines

[email protected]



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