Image Source: globalnation.inquirer.net
Image Source: globalnation.inquirer.net

CHICAGO – Although death row inmate Rodelio “Dondon” Celistino Lanuza is still looking forward to his release from jail, he is now appealing for help for other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who are languishing in the Death Row in Saudi Arabia.

In an email sent to this reporter through Ms. Janice Azur, Lanuza’s supporter in Bahrain, Lanuza stated, “Ako po ay lubusang nagagalak sa isang napakagandang balita. Naipahayag na po ni Bise Presidente Jejomar Binay na ako po ay litas na sa parusang bitay” (I am very happy over a beautiful news. Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay had announced that I will be taken off the Death Row).[box type=”default” size=”large”] Balance in blood money shouldered by Saudi government [/box]“Maraming, maraming salamat una sa Panginoon sa kanyang pagdinig sa ang aking taimtim na panalangin, sa Saudi Government at sa pamilya ng aking nasawi (Thank very much first of all to God, who listened to my heartfelt prayer, to the Saudi government and the surviving family members of my victim).

Lanuza, 38 years old, a native of Manila, felt the scare of his life last September when he learned that the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia was informed by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs that a royal order directing the implementation of a court’s decision for his beheading has been issued and affirmed by the court.

He said said, “Nakikiusap din po ako na ipagpatuloy po ang ating bayanihan para sa iba pang OFWs na nangangailangan ng tulong. Makakaasa po kayo na kaisa ninyo ako sa pagtulong sa ating kapwa Pilipino (I also appeal for the continuation of our bayanihan effort to help our other countrymen, particularly the many OFWs who are likewise in need of our help. Rest assured that I am with you in helping our fellow Filipinos).”

Last February 1, Vice President Jejomar Binay, presidential adviser on OFW concerns, said the Philippine government  thanks the Saudi government for its decision to shoulder the nearly 25-million pesos (US$595,238), which represents the balance in the 5-million riyals needed for the payment of the blood money for Death Row inmate Lanuza.

Binay said, “On behalf of President Aquino, we would like to express our most sincere thanks to His Excellency King Abdullah for his gesture of kindness. This gesture once again affirms the strong ties of friendship and brotherhood between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia announced on January 31, 2013 that the Saudi government had issued a directive to pay the balance of 2.3 million Saudi Riyals to the heirs of the victim of Lanuza.

He had admitted having stabbed the victim, an Arab, in self-defense in June 2000 and was sentenced in the same year to death by beheading.

In February 2011, the Philippine government and the Saudi reconciliation committee in Dammam, Saudi Arabia helped Lanuza secure forgiveness from the offended family. As a pre-condition for the forgiveness, a diyya or compensation in the amount of 35 million was required by the family.

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A native of Sorsogon, Philippines, he and his family now live in Chicago. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.

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