Over five hundred families of overseas Filipino workers gathered for a Christmas party organized by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center gave what little they have in their pockets to raise money for the bereaved family of Carlito Lana, the migrant worker who was recently beheaded for the crime of murder in Saudi Arabia.
The sum of Php15,000 was donated to Mrs. Susana Lana who was accompanied by her brother, Emmanuel Nunez, at the Happy OFW Christmas party held last Tuesday at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City.
Susan Ople, head of the policy center, explained that the OFW families were more than willing to “pass the hat” to help the Lana family since they are aware of the tragic demise of Carlito.
“Rather than spend time speculating about what really happened between Carlito and his Saudi employer, the families present in our Christmas event decided to dig into their pockets and help out Mrs. Lana and Carlito’s three children. An ex-OFW from Saudi Arabia who is very active in pro-OFW issues donated the biggest amount at Php 5,000,” Ople said. She said the turn-over of the donations was witnessed by staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Senator Cynthia Villar, one of the Pusong OFW Awardees of the Ople Center, also extended financial help to the Lana family.
In her message to the OFW families, Mrs. Lana thanked the government for helping Carlito when he was in jail and also expressed her gratitude to fellow OFWs and their families for their generosity. Carlito’s uncle said that his nephew was very kind-hearted and recalled how Carlito even asked for understanding from the family because he could only remit a small amount while in prison.
Per agreement with the Ople Center, Mrs. Lana will also share some of the funds raised with the children of Carlito Lana who were born out of wedlock. The beheaded OFW left behind three children.
Meanwhile, the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-profit organization that assists distressed migrant workers, said the recent beheading of Saudi-based overseas Filipino worker Carlito Lana has led other families of Filipinos on death row to seek the assistance of the Philippine government in behalf of their next of kin.
One of those who approached the Ople Center to convey such a request is the sister of Joselito Zapanta, an OFW who has been convicted by the Saudi court of killing his Sudanese landlord. His sister, Rosemay Zapanta, said that she and her mother would like to visit Zapanta in prison while they still can, given his mother’s age and the silence on the part of the aggrieved Sudanese family on the blood money raised for the commutation of his sentence.
“According to Zapanta’s sister, her mother would like to see him and convey the family’s love for him and they can only do this with the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh,” Susan Ople, the head of the policy center, said.
Ople said the DFA and the Office of the Vice-President are fully aware of the request of the Zapanta family.
In a different case, the family of OFW Jonard Langamin also sought the government’s help to ensure his freedom and repatriation after the aggrieved party accepted the latter’s plea for forgiveness. Langamin fatally stabbed fellow Filipino seafarer Robertson Mendoza in an altercation in May 2008, a crime that he immediately confessed to and was later convicted for.
Unlike in Zapanta’s case, the aggrieved family of Robertson Mendoza has conveyed their willingness to forgive Langamin, and has been cooperating with the Saudi court and the Department of Foreign Affairs so that the convicted OFW would be spared from execution.
Ople said that the government should extend humanitarian assistance to the Mendoza family in light of their cooperation, compassion, and selflessness despite the suffering the loss of their son. “There is a huge difference between the two cases since the first one involves a Sudanese national while the second case concerns two Filipino families. I am calling on our government to facilitate the closure of the Langamin case through mediation combined with humanitarian assistance.”