MANILA, Philippines—Jailed Filipino migrant worker Rodelio Lanuza is a step closer to freedom as the Philippine government has deposited to the Saudi court its 700,000 Saudi Riyals or P7.6 million contribution to the blood money for his release, Vice President Jejomar Binay said.
Binay, the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), said the amount completed funds for the blood payment as the Saudi government earlier vowed to shoulder 2.3 million Saudi Riyals (P25 million) of the total 3 million Saudi Riyals (P33 million) to spare Lanuza’s life.
“We have already deposited the amount through a tender to the Saudi government… That combines the amount from the government and contributions from the family and others… We are awaiting a hearing date where the court will issue an affidavit of release,” Binay said late Monday afternoon.
The Philippine government informed Lanuza of the development on Monday. He has been jailed in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade.
The Saudi government in January issued a royal directive for the payment of more than two-thirds of blood money that Lanuza has been ordered to pay the heirs of Mohammad bin Said Al-Qathani, the Saudi national he killed in self-defense in 2000.
According to Binay’s office, the Saudi side is expected to facilitate the deposit of the P25 million to a bank account opened for blood money donations. Per procedure, a check will then be handed over to Al-Qathani’s heirs.
They are then expected to issue a tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness in exchange for the payment. Proceedings for his release will then begin.
The Embassy of Saudi Arabia in the Philippines earlier said the Saudi government made the “royal goodwill gesture” of covering bulk of Lanuza’s blood money following coordination with Binay.
Earlier this month, the Saudi government also granted a reprieve to Filipino death row convict Joselito Zapanta just as the deadline for his blood money payment lapsed.
On March 12, Saudi King Abdullah issued an order to “defer the execution of all qizas or death penalty cases” in his country for three months.
As Zapanta is covered by the reprieve, his execution is deferred until June 8, giving government and his family more time to raise in full the P44 million in blood money he must pay to the heirs of his Sudanese victim.
Zapanta was meted capital punishment for the 2009 slay of his Sudanese landlord due to an argument over rental payments.