Dondon Lanuza was finally spared from death by beheading.
To refresh our memory and for the benefit of those who had never heard of Dondon’s plight, here are some facts about him: He hails from Quezon City and was an architecture student at Manuel L. Quezon University. He has been languishing in a jail in Damman, Saudi Arabia since August 2000.
The Damman grand court had earlier sentenced him to death by beheading and the execution was supposed to have taken on June 10, 2012.
He drew the death sentence for the killing of a Saudi national. He had always maintained that he killed the Saudi man in self defense.
He was later forgiven by the family of the victim on the condition that he should pay blood money in the hefty amount of 5 million riyals of 35 million pesos.
Dondon appealed for assistance through the internet. This caught the attention of Filipino-American leader Loida Nicolas Lewis.
Lewis, a lawyer, is a philanthropist and former national chairperson of NaFFAA (National Federation of Filipino American Associations).
Later, Lewis, a Bicolana, launched a campaign to raise funds to pay the blood money, seeking the support of all NaFFAA chapters. The fund raiser was conducted in the Philippines and abroad.
I recalled the time when I, in my capacity as NaFFAA leader, reechoed the appeal of Lewis for financial contributions to the Dondon fund.
I thought then it was the right thing to do. I received positive responses but also words of doubt about the appeal for help. Someone commented that this could be another fraud scheme.
Anyway, there were several persons who pitied Dondon and acted to help him. Thanks to Fe San Agustin and Loida Moses who were the first here in Michigan to cut checks for the fund drive to save Dondon.
But the hefty amount of the blood money was hard to raise given the time constraint. But luck was on the side of Dondon. A Saudi prince, whose identity was not revealed, had offered to match dollar for dollar the amount raised by his mother and the Lewis-initiated fund drive.
Latest reports stated that the Saudi government had put up the money to cover the shortfall in the fund drive. (See related story on Page 5.)
The plight of Dondon hogged the headlines in the Philippines.
His eventual release from the Saudi jail represents a triumph of faith and perseverance on the part of Dondon.
On behalf of NaFFAA, I am expressing a big “thank you” to all the people and entities who responded positively to the fund drive initiated by Loida Lewis.