Once-doomed Filipino in Saudi a signature away from home

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08:44 PM September 12th, 2013

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By: Tarra Quismundo, September 12th, 2013 08:44 PM

Rodelio Celestino Lanuza. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — All he needs is one last signature and jailed overseas Filipino worker Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza can finally come home.

Thirteen years of incarceration in Saudi Arabia will soon end for Lanuza after the Saudi Emir signs the deportation order to effect his release, Vice President Jejomar Binay said Thursday.

“I was informed by (Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ezzedin Tago) that all that is needed for Dondon to leave Saudi Arabia is for the Emir to sign his deportation order,” said Binay, the presidential adviser on OFW concerns, in a statement Thursday.

Sentenced to death initially, Lanuza escaped capital punishment after the family of the Saudi national he killed in self defense in 2000 forgave him. He, however, had to pay them 3 million rials (P32 million) in blood money. Having difficulty raising the amount, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz came to Lanuza’s rescue and provided the balance the Filipino could not raise–2.3 million Saudi rials (P25 million).

The Emir then issued an order for Lanuza’s release but he was informed that the order “should specifically state that Lanuza be deported to the Philippines before his exit visa could be processed,” Binay said.

“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, adding that the draft order was sent to the Emir for his signature last week.

“Upon signing by the Emir, an advance copy will be sent to the Dammam Reformatory Jail. The Jawasat will then issue Dondon’s exit visa,” Binay said.

The Vice President said the Department of Foreign Affairs had purchased an airline ticket to Manila for Lanuza but withheld confirmation of his flight until he received his exit visa.

Lanuza was sentenced to death for the killing of Saudi national Mohammad bin Said Al-Qathani. Saudi’s highest court affirmed his sentence in 2001, but he was pardoned by the victim’s family who issued a “tanazul” or affidavit of forgiveness upon receipt of the blood money.

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