An overseas Filipino worker who has languished on death row in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade has been saved from execution with the Saudi government’s shouldering nearly P25 million in blood money for his victim’s family, the kingdom’s embassy in Manila said Thursday.
The embassy said the Saudi government paid 2.3 million riyals in blood money that Rodelio Celestino Lanuza was supposed to pay to the heirs of Mohammad bin Said Al-Qathani, whom the Filipino killed in self-defense in 2000.
The amount covered the balance of 3 million riyals (P32.54 million) left after Lanuza’s family paid an initial 700,000 riyals (P7.6 million).
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed the development and thanked the Saudi Arabian government for the “humanitarian gesture.”
“This will pave the way for the issuance of an affidavit of forgiveness, or tanazul, in Mr. Lanuza’s favor. We hope that as soon as all legal procedures are completed, Mr. Lanuza will finally be reunited with his family,” DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said in a statement issued Thursday night.
The Saudi Arabian Embassy said Lanuza’s family had appealed for help to raise the remainder of the blood money.
It said the Saudi Arabian government made the “royal goodwill gesture” as a result of coordination with Vice President Jejomar Binay, the presidential adviser for migrant workers’ affairs.
Another one on death row
Binay is also working to raise P44 million to save Joselito Zapanta, another Filipino migrant worker facing execution in Saudi Arabia.
Zapanta was sentenced to death for killing his Sudanese landlord Saleh Imam Ibrahim in 2009 during an argument over rent.
It is feared that Zapanta’s execution will go through in March if he fails to raise the blood money.
At least 90 Filipinos are on death row around the world for various crimes, according to the DFA.