THE freedom of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza, who has been languishing in the death row in Saudi Arabia, has been long delayed even though he already completed the payment of a blood money to his victim’s family.
Migrante vice chair John Leonard Monterona on Monday said that the delay was caused by the non-completion of Tanazul or the Affidavit of Forgiveness as one member of the heirs still need to sign it.
Monterona blamed the Philippine embassy in Riyadh for the delay saying that this “is a gross negligence on its part” since it did not “ensure that the Tanazul will be properly done amid submission of the completed amount of blood money to the Saudi family.”
The court proceedings, according to Monterona, could not move yet because of the Tanazul awaiting the other heir to sign.
He noted that on May 23, the Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC) informed Lanuza that the father of the Saudi family already received the blood money and he already signed the Tanazul for Lanuza.
In a letter, the Philippine embassy informed Lanuza, citing SRC information, that the Dammam High Court judge is ‘still waiting for one heir to sign the Tanazul’ executed in court.
“After follow up with the Dammam High Court and coordination with the Saudi Reconciliation Committee in Dammam, the Embassy has received information that the process of the heirs signing on the Tanazul is not yet complete,” Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzadin Tago’s letter reads.
In December 2008, SRC, Saudi’s quasi-government agency, initiated a reconciliation initiative between both parties, Lanuza and the aggrieved Saudi family, to explore the acceptance of blood money by the latter in exchange of forgiveness to the OFW.
It was only after three years when the aggrieved Saudi family verbally conveyed to SRC their willingness to forgive Lanuza after completion of the blood money.
This prompted Lanuza family and relatives, Migrante and other OFW volunteers and groups, launched a fund raising campaign for his blood money.
In January 2013 the blood money was completed after the Saudi King shouldered, for humanitarian consideration, the 2.5 million rials out of the total 3 million rials blood money.
Monterona said “ any further delay on the release of Lanuza from detention constitute an injustice to him.”
“Lanuza, who along with his family, Migrante, fellow OFW supporters moved heaven and earth to raise the required blood money, only to see him still languishing in jail for 13 years since 2000 despite that the blood money was already completed and received by the aggrieved Saudi family,” he added.
Lanuza was meted death by beheading for killing a Saudi national, who allegedly attempted to rape him.
But the Dammam Grand Court suspended the implementation of the sentence until the youngest minor child of the victim who at that time of the incident was reportedly three years old, reaches the age of majority.
Ritchie A. Horario