OFW In Death Row Awaiting Release From Saudi Jail

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – Don’t break the champagne bottle yet!

Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) death convict  Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza is still very much in Saudi Arabia jail.

Hopes of Lanuza’s imminent release were buoyed by a press release on April 10 by Migrante-Middle East posted on a blog, http://migranteme.blogspot.com/, alleging that reconciliation team headed by former Ambassador Antonio Villamor, who was in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, had succeeded in convincing the aggrieved family to formally accept the blood money (diyya) offered by Lanuza’s party through the Saudi Reconciliation Committee.

“The formal blood money acceptance of the aggrieved family will spare Lanuza (from) the death row. The Saudi’s highest court (Court of Appeals in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) affirmed the death sentence of OFW Lanuza in 2001 for unintentional killing of a Saudi national sometime August 2000,” according to Migrante-Middle East press release.

The conviction is under appeal. If the conviction is reversed, the Manila-born Lanuza could be set free. If not, Lanuza, 37, could face another round of court case if the children of the victim, who are now 8 and 10 years old, reach 18 and reject the blood-money and ask the court to re-instate the beheading.


In a statement, Filipino American lawyer Loida Nicolas Lewis said, “Although I have received news that the aggrieved family may be persuaded by a member of the Royal Family to accept less that their demand of RS (riyals) 3 million “blood money” (35 million pesos or US833,333), we still have not heard from the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when the meeting with the Prince would be held.

“Therefore, Dondon is still in jail and has not been officially given the “tanazul” or letter of forgiveness by the aggrieved family.

“I suggest we hold off the celebratory Champagne bottle until the Philippine Ambassador in Saudi Arabia secures this vital meeting of all parties concerned.

“Former Ambassador Antonio Villamor has his diplomatic passport and visa to Saudi Arabia, thanks to the office of DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario in Manila. He is ready to take the plane to Saudi Arabia, as soon as this meeting is set.”

Ms. Lewis, who has actively campaigned to raise fund for Lanuza’s release, said, so far only eight million pesos (US$190,476) were raised out of around 35-million pesos ($833,333) “blood money” being demanded by the aggrieved family from Lanuza to get him released.

Marlon L. Pecson, a member of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Government (USP4GG) in Chicago, Illinois, said, “Let’s continue to help in the fund raising. Let us pray that the audience with the Prince of Saudi by the USP4GG led by Loida Nicolas Lewis will take place ASAP (as soon as possible.)”


Mr. Pecson is urging Ms. Lewis’ younger sister, Secretary Imelda Nicolas of the Commission of Overseas Filipinos and Vice President Jejomar Binay to get involved in getting Mr. Lanuza released.

He said, as OFW Presidential Adviser, Mr. Binay should “give priority to secure the release of Mr. Lanuza and set aside his involvement on the United National Alliance (UNA) political party and his presidential ambition and his dreams” as the 2013 senatorial and 2016 elections are still a bit far down the road. “Huwag niyang unahin ang UNA.” (He should not give priority to UNA.)

Migrante-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona was quoted in the press release as saying that he “is in contact with OFW Lanuza to get the details of his release. Once it is available and we get clearance from the concerned authorities, we will share the same to our fellow concerned OFWs and supporters.”

Mr. Monterona said, “We would like to remind the PH (Philippine) government that there are still OFWs on death row, aside from Don Lanuza who just recently secured forgiveness from the aggrieved family. “As per M-ME monitoring, there are about eight OFWs languishing in various jails in the Middle East, six of them were sentenced to death, four are facing possible death sentence upon conviction on various criminal offenses.”

Donors to Lanuza’s fund-raising may send in their donations to Metro Bank in Malolos, Bulacan with Savings Account Number: 575-3-575-01112-9 in what is called ‘BARYA NG BUHAY KO’ fund raising.

Other donors may accept the “One-Million Pesos (US$23,809) Challenge Grant,” where an anonymous donor would match their donations, or log on at http://www.helpdondon.com/. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal)

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