The Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera joins the outrage of the Ifugao and Cordillera people and advocates over the shooting attack against Brandon Lee on August 6, 2019 in Lagawe, Ifugao. Brandon survived the shooting. We pray that he will recover very soon.
Brandon is an indigenous peoples' rights defender in support of the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) - the provincial chapter of the Alyansa Dagiti Pesante ti Taeng Kordilyera (APIT-TAKO). Both APIT-TAKO and IPM are implementing partners of the CDPC program on the multi-sectoral program on food security, at the core of which is securing right to ancestral land.
The CDPC family takes inspiration from what Brandon has chosen to live his life, an American citizen who chose to live with the life and struggle of the Cordillera people, in particular, the Ifugao people. For the past years, Brandon has been among the several leaders and members of the IPM subjected to various forms of political vilification, threats and harassments, with stalking and surveillance intensified these past months. But these did not deter him to withdraw. He persevered.
CDPC shares the position of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance and the Cordillera People's Alliance that the attack against Brandon is part of the Duterte regime's counter-insurgency program dubbed OPLAN KAPANATAGAN. What is viciously in violation of human rights laws and international humanitarian laws in this counter-insurgency program is that activists, development workers, human rights defenders or those critical of the Duterte's anti-people policies and programs are included as targets of combat operations by being tagged as "supporters or fronts" of the CPP and NPA. A clear case is the information dissemination campaign of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency that is show casing a project participated in by the Cordillera People's Alliance to demonstrate how "communist terrorist groups are exploiting the indigenous peoples." Being portrayed as "communist terrorist group," CPA is being presented as legitimate target of armed attack or combat operation under OPLAN KAPANATAGAN. Subsequently, those supporting CPA like Brandon Lee are being presented as legitimate targets of armed attack.
Attacking civilians in the context of ending local communist insurgency is condemnable. Brandon Lee and the Cordillera People's Alliance and its networks are legitimate person and organizations advocating for the fulfillment and protection of the rights if indigenous peoples. CDPC thus joins the voices calling for adherence to international humanitarian laws and human rights laws in dealing with legitimate indigenous peoples' rights advocacy. ***