OFW in Death Row Pleads for Help for Kids’ Education

On the brink of being executed, overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza is frantically sending appeals through the email to be able to solicit support for the education of his two kids.

Vol. VIII, No. 9, April 6-12, 2008

On the brink of being executed, overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Rodelio “Dondon” Lanuza still thinks of the welfare of his two children.

Dondon is on the email list, along with that of the media, of Migrante International. Thus, Dondon was able to take the opportunity to email those in the loop to seek financial help for the education and welfare of his two children.

His email read: “Dear Countrymen, greetings! I would want to take advantage po sa loop na ito. Im a
PRISONER ALSO! In DEATHROW! Sa K.S.A.! If you are in doubt po, please feel free and have a moment to check my name: Rodelio Dondon Lanuza in Yahoo or in Google search po to prove my claim. My family is in dire needs po. I have 2 kids. Im appealing some financial assistance po for the education and welfare of my kids. Im an OFW po na nasa deathrow! Im begging you all here for help po for God’s sake. Im hoping for your immediate reply and consideration po. God bless po.”

Dondon has been languishing in the Dammam Jail since August 2000 after the Dammam Grand Court in Saudi Arabia sentenced him to death by beheading on 10 June 2002 for killing a Saudi Arabian national.

In a follow-up email, he said, “I would like to request from your kindness some financial assistance which I’m having difficulty of soliciting from others. I’ve been confined here in Dammam Central Jail since August 2000 and my resources has all turned their backs on me even my family, closest and considered friends which has helped me for the SEVEN years. They cannot be blamed for they also have their own families to support of course…Any substantial amount would really be a big help for me and my wife who is in dire straits as of the moment…My wife is here in K.S.A. also but her meager salary can’t cope with our daily living…”

Meribeth, Dondon’s wife, is also in Saudi Arabia working as a nurse.

Limited OWWA scholarship

In an email, Dondon told Bulatlat that his two children are currently in first year high school and grade five in Cavite.

At the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) website, qualified beneficiaries or dependents of OWWA member-OFWs can avail of scholarships through the Education for Development Scholarship Program and the Tuloy-Aral Project.

Under the Education for Development Scholarship Program, only children of a married OWWA member who is still below 21 years old or a brother/sister of an unmarried OWWA member whose average grade is at least 80 and belongs to the upper 20 percent of the graduating class, can apply for the scholarship. It is given in the form of a P 30,000.00 ($718 at an exchange rate of $1=P41.6financial assistance per semester.

On the other hand, the Tuloy-Aral Project aims to assist children of less fortunate former OFWs. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE0 and the OWWA regional offices, with the assistance of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), facilitate the selection of the beneficiary.

Bulatlat inquired, over the phone, at the OWWA regarding the possibility of Lanuza’s children availing of the scholarship.

Reggie Nieto of the Scholarship and Training Unit told Bulatlat that the OWWA could not offer scholarships for the Lanuza children. Nieto said Lanuza’s membership would be evaluated first, noting that the scholarship is only for active OWWA members and that the membership is valid for two years. In Dondon’s case, he was already in a Saudi jail since 2000 or nearly eight years.

And although Dondon’s wife is also an OFW, Nieto said that OWWA only offers scholarships for incoming college students.

To avail of the scholarship, Nieto said the children should first apply for it, and submit all the requirements. All applicants need to take an examination given by OWWA. From the examinees nationwide, only the top 100 will be granted the scholarship for that year.

Eliminating the two programs as options for the Lanuza children, Nieto said OWWA could offer them a two-week basic computer training course under the Bridge Education Program. It provides OFWs and their families information technology (IT) training and access to technology “that will enhance their chances of finding work,” as well as enable them to communicate with their love ones abroad through the internet.


Dondon even sent solicitation letters to politicians for his and his families needs. He said he sent solicitation letters to Senators Mar Roxas and Jinggoy Estrada but was turned down.

“Ang sabi po ay wala daw po sila maitutulong sa financial problem ko” (They said they could not help with my financial problems), he said, referring the replies he received.

“Nanawagan po ako kahit saan. Ang main concern ko po ay ang education at welfare ng 2 kids ko”
(I am appealing to everybody. My main concern is for the education and welfare of my two kids), his email to Bulatlat read. “PLEASE HELP ME FIND A PERSON PO NA MAGPI-FINANCE SA EDUCATION NG 2 KIDS KO.”

Dondon gave his contact details (donlanuza@gmail.com, donlanuza@yahoo.com), and mobile numbers +966551028601 and +966531181904, and a sister’s contact number in Cavite) for those who can lend him a hand.

Meanwhile, aside from Dondon’s email, Bulatlat also received another email from a certain Paul Padua asking for help in behalf of Dondon’s children.

“I wrote to Bulatlat a couple of weeks ago, now I would like to ask if you can help Rodelio Lanuza’s family in any way possible, either through money or better yet, basic needs for his 2 children in Cavite. They need our support, they don’t have both set of parents, who unfortunately, one of them in transit to sadly, a destination that we don’t know yet for a moment. I am appealing that if you can spread the word to everyone at home or NGO’s who have the kindest of heart to help. It can be in the form of canned goods, clothing or basic homewares like plates, or utensils for the kitchen, blankets and pillows for them to sleep on or used clothing.”

Padua’s email further wrote, “I am in strong support of your cause to help our OFWs who are stranded in other countries and as much as we don’t want to believe that these things happen, they do. I just don’t know who should be blamed first, our government or the weak international policies that turn a blind eye to these real occurrences of inhumanities that happen specifically to a group of people trying to earn a living.” (Bulatlat.com)

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