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Home Columns JGL Eye Can President Noynoy Aquino Save an OFW From the Jaw of Death?
Can President Noynoy Aquino Save an OFW From the Jaw of Death? PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - JGL Eye
Friday, 29 June 2012 15:34

 

JGL Eye Column

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

 

“[T]he Filipino … is worth dying for because he is the nation’s greatest untapped resource.” – The late Sen. Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., New York, Aug. 4, 1980

 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – When martyred and Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino, Jr. delivered a soliloquy before the Asia Society in New York in 1980, he posited himself the question: is the Filipino worth dying for?

 

In 1991, President Fidel V. Ramos fielded Ninoy’s question when faced by the Flor Contemplacion dilemma: Is the Filipino or Filipina worth saving for? History, however, may not be very kind to Mr. Ramos as his diplomats took their time in helping Mrs. Contemplacion.

 

The Ramos Department of Foreign Affairs did not even send a lawyer to help in the early defense of the case of Contemplacion, who could have escaped execution if she pleaded insanity. It's better to be alive and crazy as modern cure for brain injury and PTSD are now on the way. Diplomats only warmed up to help when the Filipino people were already up in arms against the autocratic Singapore government, which eventually carried out Contemplacion’s execution.

 

The reviled and maligned President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in what I consider, her defining moment, attempted to answer Ninoy’s question, when she ordered the withdrawal in 2004 of 11 Filipino soldiers from Iraq to meet the demands of kidnappers holding a Filipino truck driver hostage, Angelo de la Cruz, ignoring warnings from Washington that the move sends the wrong signal to terrorists.

 

Even if Mrs. Macapagal Arroyo were convicted of graft and plunder charges she is facing, she can put on a straight face to the judge that she should be given a pass because at one time or another, she was able to save the life of an overseas Filipino worker, if not the lives of a squad of Filipino peacekeepers. If not, she can promote this mitigating circumstance if she seeks a pardon from a benevolent president, who could be elected in 2016. She already paid her dues.

 

PRESIDENT NOYNOY IN THE SAME BOAT

 

I ncumbent President Aquino is also facing the same dilemma: can he save many OFWs languishing in Death Row? Will Noynoy Aquino exert every effort to save them from being decapitated? Good question.

 

There have been several executions among Filipino drug mules in China under the young Aquino administration. But the rage of Filipinos against China has not yet reached the Contemplacion level because when these Filipinos took the drugs from the drug syndicates for a small amount of money, they knew that they could face death penalty if caught.

But in the case of some inmates in the Death Row in Saudi Arabia, who are accused of accidental deaths or homicides (no premeditation because their victims were strangers) and are, therefore, defensible, the Aquino Administration is facing the daunting challenge of saving them from decapitations.

 

Take the case of Rodelio “Dondon” Celestino Lanuza, who is accused of killing a Saudi Arabian in self-defense and is imprisoned in Dammam, Eastern part of KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).

 

Although Mr. Lanuza, whose father is from Naga City in the Philippines, has been forgiven by the father of the victim last year, he still could not be released because his family has so far raised only 8.5-million pesos (US$202,380) blood money out of the 3-milion Riyal (35-million pesos or US$800,000) demanded by the surviving three children (all boys) of the victim.

 

Instead of the original 5-million Riyal demanded, Lanuza’s lawyer was able to reduce the blood money to 3-M Riyal at 1-million Riyal per child/boy.

 

Mr. Lanuza needs to raise 26.5-million pesos ($630,000) more before he could taste his freedom.

 

But he is running out of time. The three boys, aged 15, 18 and 21, are now of legal age. They can wait for the delivery of blood money within five years. If the boys will not get the money in 2016, they could go back to court and ask the court to carry out the beheading of Mr. Lanuza.

 

WHERE IS THE P.5-MILLION BALANCE?

 

As in the past administration, the maximum contribution that the Philippine government could give to a single Death Row inmate was P5-million blood money. But in the case of the four Filipinos, they were decapitated because the P20-million blood money from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office came too late in the day. Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo? (What good is the grass when the horse is dead?) Feed it to another horse?

 

Yeah, but the Aquino government is accused of being a tightwad. It is giving Lanuza’s pot only P4.5-million. Where is P0.5-million balance?

 

If you add the P4.5-M of the Philippine government to the NGO’s contributions collected by Filipino-American lawyer and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis amounting to P3.5-M, including Attorney Lewis’ matching donation, the fund-raising is still a long ways to go.

 

There was a suggestion that if only each of the 285, congressmen, including 56 sectoral representatives, will re-align .002 percent of their annual “pork barrel” or Priority Development Fund of P70-M (US$1.6-million) to Lanuza's fund, it should easily generate P39-million or P4-million too many. Or if each of the 23 senators will allocate 1% of each of their P200-million pork barrel to Lanuza's fund, it should easily raise P46-million, or P11-million too many of the P35-million needed blood money.

 

Or perhaps, some Filipino millionaires like Filipino Congressman Manny Pacquiao, Messrs. Manny V. Pangilinan of PLDT or Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation and Philippine Air Lines and other prominent Filipinos could chip in to easily complement the balance of P26.5-million blood money.

 

If this will not work, perhaps, House Committee Chair Walden F. Bello of the Overseas Workers Affairs should rework the proposal of Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David to impose an additional $50 fee to “sustain the government’s emergency repatriation funds.” But this proposal was opposed by  (OFW) group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME), which described it as ill-advised because all the funds need to do is to source it from the P13-billion being held in trust by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA), “which does not have programs and welfare services for OFWs and their dependents.”

 

The OWWA should instead buy premium insurance policies for accidental/homicide insurance for each departing OFW. In case the OFW will be charged with homicide, the insurance policy can be a source for payment of blood money. In case the OFW dies in a traffic or some accident, the spouse or children of the OFW will become the beneficiaries from this policy.

 

Meanwhile, donors to Lanuza's fund-raising may send in their donations to Metro Bank in Malolos, Bulacan with Savings Account Number: 575-3-575-01112-9 in what is called ‘BARYA NG BUHAY KO’ fund raising. Other donors may accept the “One-Million Peso (US$23,809) Challenge Grant,” where an anonymous donor would match their donations, or log on at http://www.helpdondon.com/. # # #

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 



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Last Updated on Saturday, 30 June 2012 17:22
 
Comments (6)
1 Saturday, 30 June 2012 04:24
Please ,help Don Don Lanuza mabuhay ka bilang president sana po tulungan u po un tao na nangangailan ng tulong nyo... thank you so much..
2 Saturday, 30 June 2012 04:25
Please ,help Don Don Lanuza mabuhay ka bilang president sana po tulungan u po un tao na nangangailan ng tulong nyo... thank you so much..
3 Saturday, 30 June 2012 05:01
Dear President Noynoy Aquino,ako po ay isang OFW at kaibigan ni Dondon Lanuza,ako po ay humihiling ng tulong po sa inyo para po ke Dondon Lanuza,,sana po tulungan nyo sya,hindi po nya sadya ang nangyari sa kanya,,matagal na po syang nagdurusa sa loob ng bilanggoan ng Saudia,,sana matulungan nyo na mailigtas ang kanyang buhay saparusang kamatayan,,,parang awa nyo na po sir President kayo lang po ang inaasahan namin na tutulong sa kanya,,maraming salamat po,,sana patnubayan po kayo ng ating Panginoong Diyos na nasa langit,,
4 Wednesday, 04 July 2012 23:47
Hon. President Noy Aquino,
Please help this ofw in death row at yung iba pa pong kapwa natin filipino na nkapiit dito sa saudi maawa po kayo sa kanila, kayo nalang po ang inaasahan naming mga ofw lalo na po yung may mga problema po dito sa kanilang mga amo sa abroad, please use your power as President of the Republic of the Phl. kahit gamiton nyo na po yung mga remittances ng ofw matulungan nyo lamang sila, anyway po God will provide for us. Maraming salamat po at mabuhay po kayo.
5 Friday, 27 July 2012 20:42
Puro PROPAGANDA LANG ang Pres.Noynoy. All 3 SONAs, puro nakakadismaya, 'palabas' lang to impress other countries. Alam ng sambayanan ang realidad ng Pilipinas. Ginagawang showbiz ang gobyerno. Di na kapanipaniwala.
6 Friday, 27 July 2012 20:58
Na-save na ba ang mga OFWs na humihingi ng tulong?? SANA. Right now kc kabuuang OFWs mas lalo pang inaabuso maging sa sariling bayan. Patuloy na gustong gatasan ng gobyerno through 100-165% increase sa philhealth premium ng OFWs. Mandatory na nga, tataasan pa. ENOUGH na ang panggagatas sa mga OFWs. We demand our right to choose. We want Philhealth to be OPTIONAL for OFWs. TAMA NA ang sapilitang Philhealth. Sa simula pa lng, gobyerno na mismo ang naglalagay sa mga Pilipino sa Jaws of Death.

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