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Part blood money paid by KSA spares Filipino from death

RIYADH: Filipino expats in the Kingdom expressed gratitude late yesterday following a Saudi government decision to shoulder the unpaid balance of the blood money sought by the Saudi family of a victim slain by an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).
“We thank Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and may the Almighty keep him in good health always so that he could continue extending humanitarian acts not only to Filipinos but other nationals as well,” Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago told Arab News from Manila.
OFW worker Rodelio Celestino “Dondon” Lanuza was sentenced to death for the June 2000 slaying of Mohamad Al-Qahtani, an Arab national. Late yesterday the Saudi Embassy in Manila announced that its government had made a directive for the payment of the balance of SR 2.3 million for handing over to the heirs of Al-Qahtani, who was stabbed to death by Lanuza what Lanuza claimed as self-defense.
“The Saudi government, after the heirs of the victim waived their right, has paid the balance of the blood money,” the Saudi Embassy announcement said.
Tago said that after the Saudi government has deposited the amount, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh will work with various parties involved to expedite the procedure for the release of Lanuza, who has been in jail for the last 11 years.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also welcomed the announcement and expressed gratitude for the Saudi government’s humanitarian gesture.
“This will pave the way for the issuance of an affidavit of forgiveness or tanazul in Mr. Lanuza’s favor,” Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesman, said in a text message. “We hope that as soon as all legal procedures are completed, Mr. Lanuza will finally be reunited with his family,” he added.
Mike G. Gaerlan, secretary-general of Migrante International-K.S.A., said: “King Abdullah has time and again shown generosity. In the case of Lanuza, he has shown extreme act of humanism.”
Lanuza, who worked as draftsman in the Kingdom in 1996, admitted to stabbing Al Qahtani and was sentenced to death by beheading in 2002.
In February 2011, the Philippine government and the Saudi Reconciliation Committee in Dammam helped Lanuza secure forgiveness from the victim’s family, which required a diyya, or compensation, amounting to 35 million pesos (approximately SR 3.5 million).
Lanuza’s ordeal had also been the subject of the Facebook account “Help Save a Life, Help Save Dondon Lanuza from Death Row.”
The Saudi Embassy said that Lanuza’s mother had earlier filed an appeal for the Saudi government to pay the balance after she was able to raise SR 700,000.
The OFWs running the Facebook page reported raising 10.6 million pesos (approximately SR1.6 million) as of Jan. 10 through several bank accounts.
The Saudi Embassy said that Lanuza’s mother had earlier filed an appeal for the Saudi government to pay the balance after she was able to raise SR 700,000.
The embassy also said that the goodwill gesture was the result of the coordination with the Office of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is the presidential adviser on OFW affairs.

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