Migrante celebrates freedom of OFW on Saudi death row

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos and families Migrante International celebrates the freedom of Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza, an OFW who has been on Saudi death row for the last 12 years.

Lanuza, 39, has been granted freedom by the Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC) after his family and supporters were able to raise the blood money or “diya” amounting to Php35 million needed to pay the family of his victim.

Lanuza was jailed 12 years ago for the murder of a Saudi man in 2000. He maintained that he killed the man in self-defense. Last February 2011, he was finally forgiven by the family of the victim and was required to raise the blood money in exchange for his freedom.

“We are very happy for Dondon and the Lanuza family. All our efforts have not been in vain, and we attribute this mainly to Dondon’s fighting spirit and the collective efforts of friends, supporters and family. If not for these, the Philippine and Saudi governments would not have given proper attention to Dondon’s case,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez said that Lanuza will be welcomed by Migrante International when he comes home. “There is still much help needed to campaign for the lives of other OFWs on death row. Dondon’s experience and story will serve as an inspiration to our kababayans who have been losing hope, especially after the execution of four Filipinos in China last year.”

The migrant leader cited the cases of the Gonzales brothers, Rolando and Edison, and Eduardo Arcilla who were sentenced to death by beheading in Saudi Arabia last 2006 for the murder of fellow Filipinos Romeo Lumbang, Jeremias Bucud and Dante Rivero. The Gonzales’ and Arcilla claim that they were “tortured” to admit to the crime.

Last 2010, the relatives of the victims already received blood money from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). According to Saudi laws, however, payment of blood money does not ensure release of commutation of the three OFWs on death row.

“It is really up to the lobbying efforts of the Philippines government, especially since the victims’ families are based in the Philippines. What the government needs to do is to present a “letter of forgiveness” from the families to the SRC to facilitate the processing of their cases, like in Dondon’s case,” Martinez said.

Of present, there are 122 Filipinos on death row abroad. Migrante International handles the cases of eight of them, including Lanuza.###