American activist seriously injured in shooting in the Philippines airlifted back to SF


A San Francisco man seriously injured in a shooting in the Philippines back in August is back home with his family after he was able to flee the country with the help of the U.S. embassy.

San Francisco native and environmental activist Brandon Lee arrived at San Francisco International Airport on Oct. 25 after he was airlifted from Manila.

Lee, 37, had moved from San Francisco to the country in 2010 with his wife and daughter to advocate for environmental and indigenous rights. He was working in the country’s Ifugao province when he was shot multiple times on Aug. 6.

Because of Lee’s activism, his supporters said he was labeled by the Philippine military as an enemy of the state in 2015. They believe the shooting was an assassination attempt at the hands of the regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Lee’s homecoming is a major victory for his family and friends, who over the last few months had rallied to bring him home, seeking out help from the city’s supervisors, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

In late August, Supervisor Matt Haney flew to the Philippines to visit Lee as he remained hospitalized in critical condition. Then in September, Haney and Supervisor Gordon Mar both introduced a resolution to support immediately evacuating Lee back to San Francisco to ensure his safety and that he have access to adequate medical care.

In a letter posted Oct. 27 to a GoFundMe account set up for Lee, Lee’s aunt Lita Lee thanked Pelosi, Feinstein and Harris for contacting the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, as well as Haney and Mar.

“My family is forever grateful to all those who contributed towards Brandon’s medical cost and medical transportation. We could not have done it without you and your amazing generosity,” she said.

Although Lee is now back home, his family and supporters are continuing to call on U.S. Congress to halt military aid to the country.

“I would ask the U.S. Congress to stop providing military aid to the Philippines. Please ensure our tax dollars are not used towards the killings and human rights abuses of the Duterte government. We call for a moratorium on aid to the Philippine government until such time that we know U.S. tax dollars are not being used to kill or support human rights violations. I know our government wants to help other ountries fight crime, but you need to see who you are really working with, who you are helping, and who you are inadvertently helping to kill,” she said.

After first taking office in 2016, Duterte launched a war on drugs. Some 12,000 Filipinos have died as a result, according to the group Human Rights Watch.

The GoFundMe account set up for Lee can be found at

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