| Post Office Box 975 Baguio City 2600 Philippines


August 7, 2019

Northern Dispatch (Nordis) condemns in the strongest terms the attempt on the life of our Ifugao correspondent Brandon Lee.

On August 6 at around 5:40 pm, gunmen shot and seriously wounded him in front of their house in Lagawe. He has just fetched his daughter when the attack happened.

In 2010, Brandon, who is a US citizen, opted to become a permanent resident of the Philippines and do volunteer paralegal work for the Ifugao Peasant Movement. It was also in this same period that he started to write for our paper.

It was his human rights advocacy and profound commitment to serving the marginalized communities in the Cordillera that made him an effective reporter. His contributions reflected the kind of stories that Nordis has existed to publish and popularize – the struggles of the common folk and the wonders of the countryside.

This incident strikes the deepest concern that our outfit has long expressed that red-tagging will eventually result in attacks against our correspondents and staff. For years, state agents and offices labeled Nordis of being a media outfit connected with the underground communist movement.

Just a few weeks back, during the regional workshop of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Baguio, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency tagged our outfit as an official publication of the rebels.

In recent years, the government's information office has even stopped sending us to notice for Regional Peace and Order Council as they claim that it was the order form above. It was only through the sheer assertion that we again received notification for coverage.

Our staff and columnists across Northern Luzon are under attack. Singled out by the state for their immersion in and reportage of the people's fight against corporate greed, usury and land-grabbing, militarization and rights violations, corruption and other ills of society. They are branded as communist sympathizers and members for writing the truth and popularizing the strength of the poor and marginalized.

With the all-out vilification and violent attack against individuals and institutions critical to the Duterte administration, the attacks have in fact escalated from threats, arrest, and detention, to shooting and killing.

Two of our columnists, Sherwin De Vera and Randy Malayao, were included in the list of individuals the Department of Justice accused of being members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People's Army in its court petition filed in February 2018 to declare the two organizations as terrorist.

In 2017, the police arrested and detained Sherwin, who is now the managing editor of Nordis, for trumped-up rebellion charges.

Last January, we lost Randy to assassin's bullets.

As we call for the immediate investigation and arrest of the perpetrators, Nordis also urges the media community to ensure the transparency and integrity of investigation to bring justice for Brandon his clan and community.

We likewise call on our colleagues to work together and demand the government to stop its malicious and dangerous red-tagging of media practitioners, outfits and organizations. Let us be united not only on the fight for a free press but for the right to life of each individual, united in the call to stop the attacks, stop the killings and no to tyranny. #

Share this:

Facebook Twitter