OFW calls for ‘last chance’

OVERSEAS Filipino worker (OFW) Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza issued Thursday his last appeal to the Philippine government, urging them to expedite the documents for his release.

“To our honorable Philippine officials, Vice President Jejomar Binay and officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia, kindly hear my one last appeal: Kindly immediately dispatch your staff in Riyadh to attend and follow up my release from Saudi authorities (Governorate office [Imarah] and Dammam Central Jail, and Dammam Court),” said Lanuza, who issued his statement though Filipino migrants advocacy group Migrante.

Lanuza, 39, was incarcerated for more than a decade in Saudi Arabia for killing his Sudanese landlord in 2009. He is locked in Dammam Central Jail, Saudi.

“I would like to express how thankful I am for the development of my case. I know that there are so many issues that the embassy is currently attending to. But I would like to appeal to our government to see this through until I am finally home. I heard that Vice President Binay said they could not give an exact date, I would like to plead to the embassy here in Saudi that the only way for this case to be expedited is if someone from the embassy will make a constant follow up for the release order to be issued,” he added.

“I have an inmate who is a Yemeni whose brother was constantly following up with the Dammam court; unfortunately I have no one else to rely on here except our embassy. I continue to plead with you to treat this case as if I am your brother or son. I have already lost 13 years of my life, please give me the chance to finally live a normal life once again and end my suffering. My loved ones are already waiting for me back home. Please heed my plea. Thank you,” reads Lanuza’s full statement.

According to John Leonard Monterona, Migrante regional coordinator in Middle East, Lanuza “decided to have a low profile status now so as not to cause any issue at all with the aggrieved family.”

Monterona added Lanuza has confirmed to him “that the victim’s family has already issued a tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness.”

“Dondon wish to clarify that though he already got the forgiveness from the aggrieved family, a hearing at the Dammam court is required to formally order his release. Thus, it is prudent on the part of the PH embassy to dispatch its embassy officials to attend and follow up Dondon’s release to the concerned Saudi authorities.”

“The information came from a high-ranking official of the Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC), a quasi-government agency which job is to mediate between the aggrieved and offending parties in cases where death penalty is meted out. The SRC official has been helping Dondon since 2004,” Monterona added.

On February 2011, the SRC succeeded to convince the victim’s family to accept the offer of blood money in exchange of their forgiveness to Lanuza, Monterona said.

The victim’s family asked for P32 million.

Yet on February 2013, the Saudi King shouldered P25 million for Lanuza, while the rest of the amount was raised by Lanuza’s family and friends, the overseas Filipino workers groups and communities.

Monterona enjoined the Filipinos to “convey Lanuza’s one last appeal to President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay.”

“There is a need to do this one last step for Dondon’s freedom.”

Migrante noted there are about 135 Filipinos on death row abroad.

The group also criticized the government’s slow legal support to them. (Ronald O. Reyes/Leyte Samar Daily Express)
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