Filipino groups in Kuwait have raised some $26,000 (P1.183 million) in dia (blood money) for the release of a Filipino who accidentally killed a Bangladeshi co-worker nearly 20 years ago.
The groups turned over the money to Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa and Consul General Raul Dado at the Philippine Embassy in Faiha, according to a report on Kuwait Times on Tuesday.
Expected to benefit from the dia is Joseph Urbiztondo, who a Kuwaiti court sentenced to life in jail for accidentally killing co-worker Azizur Rahman in 1996.
Rahman's family in early 2011 had agreed on the amount of the blood money, but Urbiztondo’s family could not raise the amount at that time.
But now that the amount is raised, the embassy is to deliver the money to Rahman’s family via the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka in Bangladesh.
There, the formal turnover will be done, including the signing of a "tanazul" or letter of forgiveness.
Villa said Urbiztondo may "have to stay in jail for a few weeks or so, and he will be freed soon.”
Participating in the fund-raising are:
- Alliance of Filipino Organizations in Kuwait headed by Dr. Chie Umandap, KD2,400
- Holy Family Cathedral headed by Fr. Ben Barrameda, KD2,000
- Filcom (Oliver Diong) and LCC (Pastor Allan Dytianquin), KD1,600.
- an anonymous donor contributed KD1,850 through Dado
Villa thanked the Filipino community for raising the money — an effort that took years.
"I am really proud of what the Filipinos could do for their compatriots, if they are acting in unity,” he said in the report.
For his part, Barrameda said the fund-raising was with the permission of Bishop Camillo Ballin.
“To all Filipinos who helped and shared something … thank you. We don’t condone wrongdoing but Urbiztondo already paid the consequence of his action: he has been in jail for almost 20 years. For Urbiztondo, we will wait for your freedom and [the time you will] be with your family,” he said.
Pastor Allan Dytianquin also thanked God for the gift of realization and acceptance.
“Urbiztondo served his prison sentence in the Kuwaiti jail. It is about time for him to face a new chapter in his life,” he said.
Mildred Lacson, one of the coordinators for the Alliance of Filipino Organization, said the money they contributed to the dia stemmed from concerts they organized.
“We collected the amount through a series of concerts called 'MusikaatTawanan.' So, we did not just give Filipinos an outlet to be happy, we also give hope to Urbiztondo,” she said. —Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News