The Blas F. Ople Policy Center will offer a thanksgiving mass tomorrow (6 pm) at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Pasay City in gratitude for the act of forgiveness and reconciliation between two OFW families that paves the way for the eventual freedom of a Filipino on Saudi Arabia’s death row.
Susan Ople, president of the policy center, noted that three years of pain and anguish were resolved in a ten-minute meeting held this morning at the Coconut Palace with Vice-President Jejomar Binay, DFA OUMWA executive director Eric Endaya, OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon and the Mendoza and Langamin families.
In May 2008, two seafarers aboard a ship located near Saudi Arabia had a serious altercation which resulted in the fatal stabbing of Robertson Mendoza. For the said crime, Jonard Langamin, son of sweet corn vendor Edith Langamin, was thrown in jail for murder, an act punishable by execution through beheading in the said Kingdom. The agreement reached this morning between the two families effectively negates such a possibility, thus saving the life of OFW Jonard Langamin who faces the death sentence early this year.
Edith Langamin’s body shook with shock, relief, and joy as she cried and kneeled in front of Robert Mendoza, father of Robertson, in gratitude for his forgiveness. She also hugged Vice-President Binay while repeatedly expressing her thanks. Ople, who was seated beside Edith and her sister, Rina, had to calm down the highly emotional mother.
“I told her that the first thing she must do is to offer thanks to the Lord because this is a New Year blessing and a miracle. The case has been pending with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi court for more than three years. Time was really no longer on Jonard’s side until today,” Ople who was present during the private meeting said.
“Nanay” Edith brought the case of her son to the attention of the Blas F. Ople Center in April 2011. The Center has been following up on Jonard’s case with the DFA. The blood money being sought for was pegged at the equivalent of Php 5 million, an amount way beyond the financial capabilities of the fishball and sweet corn vendor. On the average, “Nanay” Edith, as she is fondly called by the Ople Center staff, earns Php 300 a day, an amount that is only enough to feed her family.
Last December 16, around 500 overseas Filipino workers and their families who attended the Christmas party of the Ople Center at Philam Life Auditorium were able to chip in Php 5,000 in addition to Php27,000 already raised by the Langamin family. This amount is still a far cry from the blood money required of Jonard Langamin.
“The act of forgiveness that would be converted into a formal letter to be submitted to the Saudi court is the key that would soon lead to Jonard’s freedom. Vice-President Binay handled the meeting with tact and sensitivity to the plight of both families. The victim’s father did not say much but was very humble and receptive. It’s hard not to divine the Lord’s guiding hand in what happened this morning,” Ople said, adding that the Ople Center had also invited the Mendoza family to attend tomorrow’s mass which shall also be offered in memory of their son, Robertson.