PHILIPPINES: PARDONED OFW LANUZA BACK AFTER 13 YEARS
September 19, 2013: After 13 long years, Rodelio "Dondon" Lanuza, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was saved from death row in Saudi Arabia, finally arrived in the country in the afternoon, ending his family's long wait and putting a happy ending to a story that even involved the King of Saudi Arabia.
Carrying only a green bag, Lanuza arrived on board Etihad Airways flight EY 424 at 3:03 p.m wearing a long striped shirt and a shawl. He was met by his parents, Edilberto and Letty Lanuza.
"Nagpapasalamat ako sa Diyos dahil nakauwi ako ng buhay," he said in an interview aired on radio dzBB. Lanuza had been in jail since 2000 after he was sentenced to death for killing an Arab national. Saudi Arabia's highest court affirmed Lanuzaâs death penalty in 2001 but pardoned him after the victim's family was paid SR3 million in blood money.
Of the SR3 million, SR700,000 was paid by the Philippine government and supporters of Lanuza. Saudi King Abdullah shouldered the remaining SR2.3 million. A report on GMA News' "24 Oras" showed Lanuza, 38, tearfully hugging his parents upon meeting them. The report said Lanuza is now a Muslim convert.
Interviewed by reporters inside the airport's VIP room where he and his parents stayed for 30 minutes, Lanuza maintained his innocence in the crime. He had said in previous interviews that he acted in self-defense as the victim was allegedly trying to rape him.
âMalinis po ang konsensya ko. Sumpa man sa Diyos, wala talaga akong kasalanan,â he said in the "24 Oras" report.
Â Lanuza's papers were processed at the airport by representatives from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and the Office of the Vice President.
The dzBB report said Lanuza appeared confused at times and quoted him as saying that he may need some time to get used to his newfound freedom. (Sources: gmanetwork.com, 19/09/2013)