BAGUIO, Philippines (CNS) — A Catholic nun accused the military of being behind the shooting of a human rights defender in the northern Philippines Aug. 6.
“It’s the military,” said Good Shepherd Sister Genoveva Dumay, who works with farmers and political prisoners in the northern region of the country.
Gunmen shot and seriously wounded Brandon Lee, an American citizen who works as a volunteer for a farmers’ organization, ucanews.com reported.
Sister Dumay said Lee had told her that soldiers had been following and harassing him.
Army spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala denied the allegation.
“The Philippine army is people centered, thus we strictly adhere to the provisions of human rights,” he said.
Lee, who is married to a Filipino woman, is fighting for his life after being shot several times.
Philippine authorities said a special task force will investigate the shooting.
Lee, 37, a paralegal volunteer for the Ifugao Peasant Movement, allegedly was “red-tagged,” or declared a communist rebel sympathizer by the military in 2015.
“He told me that he was being tailed by military people,” said Sister Dumay who has worked with Lee on several occasions, particularly on human rights issues.
“I saw how he worked with the peasants. They were not rebels, and they were not armed,” she said.
“My congregation and we, as a church, condemn the attacks by the military against Lee, IPM members, and those defending human rights,” she added.
Lee became a permanent resident of the Philippines in 2010, joined the peasant movement the same year and wrote for the local news agency Northern Dispatch.
Lee become the third peasant movement member to be attacked.
In 2014, William Bugatti, another paralegal officer, was killed after being tagged a communist rebel. The same fate awaited Ricardo Mayumi, who was killed in March 2018.
The tribal group Sandugo claimed that 49 tribal community members across the country have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016.
“Those who support our plight are also being targeted,” said Kerlan Fanagel, a Sandugo spokesman.
He said military operations against suspected communist rebels have intensified in tribal communities, resulting in forced evacuations.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103