OFW’s online pleas turn to joy as he is spared from death

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07:23 PM February 2nd, 2013

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By: Tonette Orejas, February 2nd, 2013 07:23 PM

Rodelio Celestino Lanuza

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—Overseas Filipino worker Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza is profuse with gratitude after being spared from the death row through the mercy of the king of Saudi Arabia.

His two Facebook pages, which served as platforms for endless appeals, fund-raising drives and exchanges of prayers since 2006, now express a happier mood as Lanuza, 38, and the thousands of Filipinos who took their bayanihan online for him greeted his looming freedom with joy.

On Friday night, he posted his first message, written in Filipino: “I am immensely joyful because of a very good news. Vice President Jejomar Binay has announced that I am now safe from the death penalty.”

Lanuza said he was grateful to God “for listening to his sincere prayers,” to the Saudi government and to the family of a Saudi national he killed in self-defense back in 2000.

The family of the victim had pardoned him in February 2011, and had asked for blood money the balance of which reached P24.9 million that King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud offered to pay. Lanuza’s fund-raising bid pooled P7.5 million.

“I am very, very thankful to all the people who have helped me and became part of my freedom campaign. I cannot immediately make a list of names of people I should be thanking and I might forget some. But I know in your heart and mind you know who did not cease helping through prayers and donations for my freedom,” he said.

Lanuza asked for more prayers and support so that his release may come soon. “I hope no more obstacles come the way of the freedom I long wished for,” he said.

“I request you to continue our bayanihan for other OFWs who need help,” Lanuza said, assuring he was going to be part of efforts in helping distressed compatriots.

On HelpDondon.com, he specifically thanked the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, led by Ambassador Ezzedin Tago; the Saudi Reconciliation Committee through Sheikh Ali; United States-based philanthropist Loida Nicolas-Lewis and his parents, Letty and Edilberto; former Ambassadors Antonio Villamor, Roy Seneres, Grace Rebong; Binay; Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario; and Undersecretary Rafael Seguis.

“I owe you my life. May God reward you for your kindness,” he said. He has not shared his plans once he is freed from prison in Dammam. Lanuza worked as a draftsman in Saudi Arabia since 1996.

The same page quoted Lewis informing ABS-CBN Middle East that Lanuza’s freedom was “almost like a miracle.”

In a statement, Binay said the release was a result of a “concerted effort.”

Lanuza said his online freedom campaign via the Facebook page “Help save a life” was begun by Regalado Jose, a Kapampangan OFW working for the car-maker, Hyundai.

The two never met and were connected only through online chats or text messages.

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