• Lanuza one signature away from freedom

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    OVERSEAS Filipino worker (OFW) Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza, who was earlier sentenced to death by a Saudi Arabia court, is just one signature away from finally heading home, Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Thursday.

    The vice president said he was informed by Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago that all is needed for Dondon to leave Saudi Arabia is for the Emir to sign his deportation order.

    Binay explained that the Emir had already previously issued an order for Lanuza’s release.

    But the Jawasat (Saudi Passport Office) informed jail authorities that the order from the Emir should specifically state that Lanuza be deported to the Philippines before his exit visa could be processed.

    “Upon signing by the Emir, an advance copy will be sent to the Dammam Reformatory Jail. The Jawasat will then issue Dondon’s exit visa,” said Binay, presidential adviser on OFW concerns.

    He added that Lanuza’s employer had already issued a No Objection Letter, or mukalasa, on September 3 needed for the OFW’s repatriation.

    Lanuza has also already undergone fingerprinting, another requirement for deportation.

    Citing information from Tago, Binay said the order issued by the Emir was for “‘Mr. Lanuza’s release’ only.”

    As such, he said the Jawasat has instructed the Dammam Reformatory Jail to request for a deportation.

    “Ambassador Tago said the Jawasat instructed the Dammam Reformatory Jail to request for a deportation since order the order issued by the Emir was for ‘Mr. Lanuza’s release’ only,” Binay said.

    He added a draft of the revised order was sent to the Emir for his signature last week.

    Once the order is signed, an advance copy will be sent to the Dammam Reformatory Jail, after which the Jawasat will issue Lanuza’s exit visa, he said.

    He said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had already bought a ticket for Lanuza’s trip home, although his flight schedule remains uncertain until his exit visa is issued.

    Lanuza has been in jail since 2000 after he was sentenced to death for killing an Arab national.

    Saudi Arabia’s highest court affirmed Lanuza’s death penalty in 2001, but he was pardoned after the victim’s family received SAR3 million in blood money.

    Of the amount, the Philippine government paid SAR700,000 while Saudi King Abdullah paid the remaining SAR2.3 million.

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