ANGELES CITY – A 37-year-old Filipino on death row in Damman Central Jail in Saudi Arabia has only two months to raise “blood money” worth about P35 million to escape beheading.
In a message sent to Punti via his Facebook account, Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza, who was jailed for killing a Saudi national in what he claimed as self defense in 2000, said the family of the victim had agreed to spare him from the death penalty in exchange for the blood money.
Last Monday, Arab News reported that the Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC) had announced that Lanuza could be saved from execution if blood money is paid to the family of his victim in two months’ time. The arrangement was made four months ago.
Monterona also said the SRC told him that no Philippine embassy representative attended the meeting last Monday night, during which an update on the blood money would have been discussed.
Arab News said it tried to contact Ambassador-designate Ezzedin Tago to get the embassy’s side but that he was reported to be “out of the Kingdom.”
The SRC, whose executive chairman is Dr. Nasser Bin Mesfir Al- Zahrani, is credited with saving the lives of 173 people sentenced to death since its inception in 2008. Its mission is to prevent haggling by the families of the murder victims over blood money or “diya.”
Pardoning or forgiving a murderer is permissible in the Shariah, for the sake of Allah, or through the payment of “diya.” In the case of Lanuza, the eldest child of the aggrieved family determined the amount of “diya” with the other option to otherwise have Lanuza beheaded.
The Arab newspaper quoted last Tuesday John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, as saying the SRC had negotiated with the victim’s family members for six years to convince them to accept a blood money settlement which is provided in Saudi Arabian laws.
While the report did not mention the amount of blood money demanded by the family, Lanuza, in a Facebook reply to Punto, estimated it to be about P35 million.
“Lanuza is worried that the aggrieved family may change their mind unless the money is paid (immediately),” the newspaper report added.
“On behalf of Lanuza and his wife and two kids, Migrante-Middle East is calling on President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino lll to raise the needed money,” the Arab newspaper quoted Monterona as saying.
Monterona said Lanuza’s case has become an opportunity for the President to “prove his critics wrong.” On Sunday, Migrante-Middle East gave a “failing grade to President Aquino for unsatisfactory rating in his first year in office.”
Lanuza is allowed access to Internet in jail and has gained some following in his facebook account.
He and supporters recently launched through Facebook a fund raising drive to raise blood money, giving out the number of a bank account in Malolos, Bulacan. He also issued information on how his parents could be contacted to authenticate the fund raising campaign.
Migrante-Middle East is also monitoring the cases of other death convicts in Saudi, including brothers Rolando and Edison Gonzales, Eduardo Arcilla, Joselito Zapanta and, Carlito Rana.
(Note: Lanuza has asked that details on his murder case not be tackled as this might prompt family to pursue his beheading instead)