Finally, the long wait is over for the longest serving Filipino inmate who has been in the Kuwait Central Jail for 19 years now after being sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a Bangladeshi national on July 6, 1996. Joseph Urbiztondo is hopeful to be freed soon after the recent turnover by the Filipino organisations and Roman Catholic Church of the blood money or ‘diya’ needed to secure a tanazul (letter of forgiveness) from the family of his victim after the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh tracked down the son of his victim. Urbiztondo, 44, a native of Bacoor, Cavite in the Philippines was arrested by authorities on July 6, 1996 for allegedly killing a Bangladeshi national and was later on sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
Urbiztondo is now qualified to apply for an Amiri pardon with the supporting tanazul from the victim’s family. The blood money amounting to KD 6,000 was collected by various Filipino organisations, the Roman Catholic Church and some individuals in February 2013 but it had remained for safekeeping with some Filipino leaders while the Philippine Embassy was trying to locate the victim’s next of kin in Bangladesh.
Finally, early this year, with the help of the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh led by Charge d’ Affaires Pendosina Lomondot, some non-governmental organisations and the Bangladeshi government, they were able to find the victim’s son that led to the negotiation of the tanazul and the son demanded US$26,000 for the blood money. Short of $6,000, Philippine Consul General to Kuwait Raul H Dado was able to raise the additional amount with the help of some anonymous donors to complete the blood money.
The ceremonial turnover of the blood money was held at the embassy recently in the presence of Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro O Villa. Rev Fr Ben Barrameda handed the ceremonial cheque of KD 2,000 from the Roman Catholic Church to Villa while LCC Pastor Allan Dytianquin handed the cheque of KD 1,600 from various Filipino organisations and OFWs and the KD 2,400 ceremonial cheque from the Alliance of Filipino Organizations in Kuwait (ALLFIL-OK) was given by Mildred Lacson, the Secretary-General of ALLFIL-OK. On the other hand the $6,000 from some anonymous donors through Consul General Dado was also handed to the Ambassador.
“I thank the Filipino organizations in Kuwait for coming together and sharing the amount of money for Urbiztondo’s freedom. I am really proud of what the Filipinos could do for their compatriots, if they are acting in unity,” stated Villa. He expressed optimism that Urbiztondo will ultimately gain his freedom after the tanazul is obtained from Bangladesh then the embassy legal team in Kuwait will work on all the legal procedures.
The Filipino leaders as well as the religious leaders present during the turnover wished all the best for Urbiztondo. “The Roman Catholic Church and all our parishioners are happy to be a part of this, being able to help someone start his life anew,” stated Fr Barrameda. “We will continue to pray for Joseph so he will finally be pardoned and can go home to the Philippines and be with his family,” pointed out Dytianquin.
In the past, Urbiztondo wrote letters to the Philippine government and some government officials asking for help for his blood money but nothing happened. It was in August 2012 with the initiative of former Philippine Labour Attache to Kuwait David Des Dicang who gathered leaders of various Filipino organisations and launched the fund drive for Urbiztondo. “It’s heartwarming to know that with the help of everyone in the community, we were able to raise and complete the needed amount. This is an answered prayer.
It only shows that if everyone comes together and work for one common goal then we can accomplish a lot of good things. On behalf of the Alliance of Filipino Organizations in Kuwait, thank you very much for all your kindness,” stated Lacson. “We are happy to help Joseph. We will continue to help him until he is released from the jail,” stressed Oliver Diong, the Overall Coordinator of the Coalition of Filipino Community Organizations in Kuwait.
On his part, Urbiztondo sent a text message to the Arab Times thanking the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait and in Bangladesh as well as the Filipinos in Kuwait who helped him. “Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. Please continue praying for me that I can finally get out of the jail and be given a new lease of life. God bless you all for your kindness,” stated Urbiztondo.
Source - Arab Times