Manila, Philippines – After a decade-long imprisonment in a Damman jail for killing a Saudi national, at last, Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza left Saudi Arabia last night and is expected to arrive in Manila this afternoon.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, also presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns, announced on Wednesday the arrival of Lanuza from Damman Thursday, September 19.
“Gusto ko lamang ibalita sa inyo na bukas ng hapon, yung kababayan natin na matagal na nakakulong, who was sentenced to death in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is arriving,” he said at the sidelines of the Regional Scouts Summit in Leyte.
Lanuza was sentenced to death in 2001 for killing a Saudi national who attempted to molest him in 2000.
Sentenced to death initially, he was spared of the capital punishment after paying the victim’s family of 3 million Saudi Riyal or about P35 million, in blood money.
Of the SR3 million, SR700, 000 or P7-6 Million was paid by the Philippine government and some donors. Having the difficulty raising the amount, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz came to Lanuza’s rescue, shouldering the balance of 2.3 million Saudi Riyals (P25 million).
In a statement released by the Office of the Vice President, Binay expressed his deepest gratitude to the king of Saudi Arabia, to private groups and to the Philippine Embassy in KSA for the donations for the blood money.
A FREE MAN ON HIS WAY HOME
After the Saudi Emir signed his deportation order, an advance copy was sent to the Damman Reformatory Jail, issuing Dondon’s exit visa.
“Ambassador Tago said the Jawasat [Directorate General for Passports] instructed the Dammam Reformatory Jail to request for a deportation order since the order issued by the Emir was for Mr. Lanuza’s release only,” Binay said,
Furthermore, draft order was sent earlier last week to the Emir for his signature.
Binay also said the Department of Foreign Affairs had purchased an airline ticket for Lanuza but withheld confirmation of his flight until he had received his exit visa.
Ambassador Ezzedin H. Tago said Lanuza had sent him a text message thanking him, the Philippine government and the embassy for helping to free him.
Tago also said that he did not know what Lanuza’s plans are once he is back home.
Lanuza had sent a text message to a local newpaper in Saudi Arabia for reporting on his case, as well as thanking King Abdullah for helping him out.
Dondon also acknowledged the good treatment shown to him while in jail.
In the Philippines, Dondon’s family and friends are now eager to see him after 13 long years.
On the other hand, some OFW in KSA have expressed happiness upon the release of Lanuza.
Mary Jane Tupas, President of the Philippine Nurses Association in the Eastern Province and Director of Nursing at the Mohammas Dossary Hospital in Al-Khobar, said that although Dondon suffered emotionally, good memories came his way for him to look back on.
Mary Sarah Inciso Gabornes
ABCom Intern/ Leyte Normal University