Monterona (center) and another supporter during a dialogue with an official from DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) regarding the status of Dondon Lanuza's release papers
Monterona (center) and another supporter during a dialogue with an official from DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) regarding the status of Dondon Lanuza’s release papers
MANILA, Philippines-Eighty-eight-year old grandmother Jovita Fajardo Lanuza was very emotional. She has been preparing since June –from scheduling a holy mass, cleaning the room, readying the favorite food and even putting up streamers–for the return of her grandson, Rodelio ‘Dondon’ Lanuza, who is reportedly scheduled for release from Saudi prison yet whose papers remained unsigned due to the alleged “gross negligence” of the Philippine embassy handling the case.

According to John Leonard Monterona, designated spokesman and counselor of Mr. Lanuza since 2008, he accompanied Lanuza’s grandmother and his cousin Jennie Vee Villanueva on Monday,  July 15,  to the DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) “to seek a clarification on the status of Lanuza’s case and his supposed release.”

During the dialogue, Monterona, who is also the vice chairperson of migrant rights group Migrante, discussed the alleged conflict on the information provided by the Philippine embassy in Riyadh to Lanuza on its letter dated July 10, 2013, which states, among others, that: “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.”

“This raises serious concern. The blood money were already received by the aggrieved Saudi family, and yet, the Tanazul, letter of forgiveness, has not yet done as one member of the heirs still need to sign it,” Monterona said, noting the case timeline.

Based on Lanuza’s case timeline dated March 23, 2013, the SRC informed Lanuza that the father of the Saudi family already received the blood money and that the father already signed the Affidavit of Forgiveness (Tanazul) for Lanuza.

“Thus, we are criticizing the Philippine embassy for its gross negligence, for failure to ensure that the Tanazul is properly done amid submission of the completed amount of blood money to the Saudi family  that causes further delay to Dondon’s eventual release and deportation,” Monterona told  Manila Channel.

The Court proceedings could not proceed yet because of the Tanazul, awaiting the other heir to sign on it, Monterona claimed, with reference to the remaining “legal or judicial course” to Lanuza’s freedom.

“The case still waiting for Court proceedings – including the affirmation of the settlement by the Appellate Court. From the court, Lanuza’s case file will be sent to the Emir’s (governor) office then Emir’s office will issue an Order pertaining to the settlement of Lanuza’s case and his complete case file will be sent to the Ministry of Interior (MoI) for clearance. Upon clearance, the office of the Emir will inform the concerned Police and jail authorities for implementation of the deportation procedure of Lanuza to the Philippines,” disclosed Monterona.

During the meeting, Lanuza’s family requested the hiring of local-hired lawyer for Dondon Lanuza who will closely and regularly attend and to urgently manifest in Court to affirm the settlement and Tanuzal issued by the Saudi family in favor of Dondon Lanuza, Monterona said.

“The DFA-OUMWA expressed committed that they will call Philippine ambassador to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ezzadin Tago to explore with him the hiring of local lawyer who will closely follow the completion of Tanuzal and the required court proceedings.”

“Any further delay on the release of Lanuza from detention constitute an injustice to Lanuza, who along with his family, Migrante, fellow OFWs and supporters have ‘moved heaven and earth’ to raise the required blood money, thanks to the Saudi King for his generosity as he shouldered the 2.3-M rials of 3-M rials blood money, only to see Lanuza still languishing in jail for 13 years since 2000 despite that the blood money was already completed and received by the aggrieved Saudi family on May 23, 2013 as per the Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC),” Monterona added.

The following is the case timeline of Rodelio ‘Dondon’ Lanuza, 38, as documented by Monterona and his group:

August 15, 2000 – Rodelio ‘Dondon’ Lanuza, then only 25 years old, defended himself from his aggressor that resulted on the accidental death of a Saudi national.

June 10, 2002 – The Dammam Grand Court (DGC) sentenced Lanuza to death by beheading for killing a Saudi national.But the said 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.

July 9, 2002 – An appeal was submitted to the Riyadh Court of Appeals, which later affirmed the decision of the Dammam Grand Court.

December 2008 – The Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC), a quasi-govt. 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 Lanuza.

February 27, 2011 – The aggrieved Saudi family verbally conveyed to SRC their willingness to forgive Lanuza after completion of the blood money.

August 2011 – Lanuza family and relatives, Migrante’s John Leonard Monterona, and other OFW volunteers and groups, launched Lanuza Fund raising campaign for his blood money dubbed as “Barya Mo, BuhayKo”. US-based Ms. Nicolas Lewis and her group joined the campaign.

January 2013 – Blood money was completed after the Saudi King shouldered, for humanitarian consideration, the 2.5-M rials out of the total 3-M rials blood money.

May 23, 2013 – SRC informed Lanuza that the father of the Saudi family already received the blood money and that the father already signed the Affidavit of Forgiveness (Tanazul) for Lanuza.

July 9, 2013 – Philippine embassy letter dated  July 10,  2013 informed Lanuza, citing SRC information, that the Dammam High Court judge is ‘still waiting for one heir to sign the Tanazul’ executed in court.