CHICAGO – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are vulnerable to harassments and exploitations in the countries where they are deployed. For this reason, OFWs should be very extra careful in dealing with people in their host country.
If an OFW notices that the red flag is up, he should start to backtrack and find a way out.
He should always bear in mind the slogan popularized by former US First Lady Nancy Reagan, “just say no.” Or remember the message of the French fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood, which is about a little girl who did not sprint away after she noticed the “big hands” and “big teeth” of a wolf,” that swallowed her grandmother while the wolf was pretending to be her grandma.
Even if a fellow Filipino cajoles his fellow Filipino into doing something that involves a third party, “just say no” because chances are this fellow Pinoy has no control of the actions of this third party. Pakikisama (comradeship) has its limits.
A Filipino in Saudi Arabia learned this lesson the hard way when two of his Filipino friends invited him over to a home of a Saudi Arabian.
Records of the Court of Appeals in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia show that Manila-born Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza, 26, draftsman, who finished his architecture degree at the MLQ University in Manila, was invited by two Filipinos to the home of a Saudi at about 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 10, 2000.
While in the home of the Saudi, Lanuza and his friends were treated to a dinner. Later, the three were offered to drink scotch.
Although Lanuza initially refused to take a sip, the Saudi host insisted. Instead of saying “no”, he caved in.
At about 10 in that evening, Lanuza and his two Filipino friends bid their host goodbye but the Saudi host prevailed upon them to stay. After a while, the Saudi let them leave on condition that in case the policemen ask them where they had drunk liquor, they should not tell on their host.
When Lanuza was already home, their host suddenly got inside his room (apparently the door was open). The Saudi asked Lanuza if he could accompany him to drive around the city; instead of saying no, Lanuza granted the request because he was “expecting that he was a good man.”
After a short period, Lanuza was surprised that the Saudi host drove him to his (Saudi’s) home.
Due to the sensitive nature of the case which is still pending in court, the family of Lanuza asked me not to write the details about what happened in the home of the Saudi. I can only say a struggle took place in the house of the Saudi, resulting in the “accidental killing” of the host. Lanuza suffered stab wounds in the neck and other parts of the body.
The family had charged Lanuza with the killing of the host. As a result, the family asked the court for a Qisas (retaliation) in the form of beheading which is allowed under the Islamic principle “an eye for an eye” or lex talionis.
Lanuza’s lawyer has filed an appeal, which is still pending.
Two weeks ago, I talked to Lanuza’s mother, Mrs. Letty Lanuza (email@example.com), who told me that the family of the Saudi host is willing to withdraw their petition with the court to spare the life of Lanuza provided Lanuza’s family pay the host’s famiy “blood money” in the amount of 3 million riyals (US$800,000).
If Lanuza loses the appeal, he could ask for a reduction in the amount of the blood money because he has already converted from Christian to Muslim.
Under the Sharia law, when a person is killed or caused to die by another person, the blood money is highest if the victim is a Muslim. It is reduced when the victim is a Muslim woman, Christian or Jewish man, Christian or Jewish woman or if the victim belongs a religion other than Islam.
So far, the Lanuza family has raised only 450,000 pesos or US$10,714, representing only .01 percent of the amount of the blood money being demanded. Mrs. Lanuza, a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada, said that in their bid to raise the amount needed, her family has opened a bank account at the Metro Bank in Malolos, Bulacan (Savings Account No. 575-3-575-01112-9). This fund-raising drive is dubbed “Barya ng Buhay Ko.”
She said the amount of the blood money can no longer be reduced as the Saudi family has already reduced it from 5 million riyals to 3 million riyals.
Mrs. Lanuza said there is urgency for her family to raise soon the “blood money” because if the Saudi’s children, with age 7 and 9, reach 18 years old, it is going to be a new ball game. The grown-up children can accept the blood money or ask the court to re-instate the beheading decision.
There have been some donation pledges received. One prospective donor is willing to match a donation of up to one million pesos (US$23,809), but he would like to remain anonymous.
Hopefully, the Philippine Overseas Workers Welfare Administration would channel a part of the money it collects from the OFWs to buy “blood money” insurance from big insurance companies, like Lloyds of London, so that in case another OFW is asked to pay blood money, there would be no more need to ask OFWs to pass the hat around the world to spare the life of a fellow OFW.
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