Vice President Jejomar Binay is elated during his meeting with Rodelio Lanuza, the OFW in Riyadh who was spared the death penalty. VIDEO by INQUIRER.net’s Matikas Santos
MANILA, Philippines – It’s a “happy ending” story for Rodelio Dondon Lanuza, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was spared the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, vice president Jejomar Binay said Monday.
“As I told Lanuza, [it’s a] happy ending,” he told reporters in an interview after he and Lanuza personally met for the first time.
“I am urging him to write about his experience,” Binay, the presidential adviser for OFW concerns, said.
Lanuza was imprisoned for 13 years in Saudi Arabia and was put on death row for killing a Saudi national Mohammad bin Said Al-Qathani in 2000.
Lanuza, who was then 25, claimed that it was in self-defense. He said Al-Qathani tried to rape him.
Lanuza was eventually freed when the family of the victim was paid 3 million Saudi Riyals, equivalent to P32 million. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz kicked in 2.3 million Saudi Riyals while the rest was raised by the government through the efforts of Binay and other supporters.
Binay said that this was “one for the books,” since this was the first time that the King of Saudi helped pay the blood money for the victim’s family.
“First time also that he endured 13 years of being in prison [which] he survived and also tested his faith in God,” Binay said.
“He didn’t have any idea whether he would be executed the following day or not, can you imagine that kind of trauma?” he said.
Helping other OFWs
Lanuza, who previously said that he wants to help other imprisoned OFWs, said that he was talking with Philippine government authorities and giving them information on how the system works inside the prisons.
“I will give them ideas about the system inside the prisons, on how to start the procedures of finishing their case,” Lanuza said.
When asked if he would also help in fund-raising campaigns for the OFWs, he said yes.
Lanuza, who converted to Islam in 2001 while he was in prison, said that it gave him “inner peace” which helped him with his ordeal in prison.
“I studied it for 10 months before converting. It helped me endure and gave me inner peace, peace of mind,” Lanuza said.
He said that he was now feeling much better because he was home.
“I still feel a bit [tense], but much better than before now that I am here in the Philippines, so I’m very happy,” he said.
Pardoned OFW Rodelio Lanuza is looking forward to a new life after being spared the death sentence. He revealed his plan Monday to help the government in dealing with imprisoned OFWs. VIDEO by INQUIRER.net’s Matikas Santos