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Filipino prisoner grateful for blood-money freedom

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 25: Joseph Urbiztondo, the longest serving Filipino inmate who has been in the Kuwait Central Jail for 16 years now after being sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a Bangladeshi national on July 6, 1996 thanked the Filipino community in Kuwait on Monday for helping him raise the KD 6,000 blood money needed for his freedom.

“Words are not enough to thank you all. I have been praying for this day to come and after 16 years of waiting, my prayer has been finally answered. I may not be able to repay your kindness but with all my prayers, God will bless you always for your generosity,” he expressed as he sobbed on the phone during an interview with the Arab Times.

Urbiztondo thanked the Alliance of Filipino Organizations in Kuwait (ALLFIL-OK) for donating KD 2,400  to complete the KD 6,000 blood money. The group made the donation announcement on Saturday during the Thanksgiving and Recognition Ceremony held at the Jollibee Restaurant in Kuwait City. He also thanked the other Filipino organizations and individuals who helped him.

The ALLFIL-OK composed of the Filipino Badminton Committee, Filipino Cultural Club, Filipino Association of Secretaries of Employment Agencies in Kuwait, Philippine Society of Marketing Specialists in Kuwait, Mga Oragon sa Kuwait, Fitness Professionals in Kuwait, Friends in Kuwait, Kuwait Filipino Mothers Organization and Pilipino sa Kuwait organised a musical concert dubbed “Musika at Tawanan sa Kuwait” on January 25 this year featuring the Philippines Comedy Concert and Box-Office Queen Ai-Ai Delas Alas and Pinoy Dream Academy winners Bugoy Drilon and Liezel Garcia to help raise the needed amount for the blood money.

Part of the proceeds of the concert was donated to the fund drive “Barya mo, Laya ko” (Your coin for my freedom) to help raise the blood money of Urbiztondo which was launched in August last year by the Filipino Community in Kuwait

Last year, various Filipino organizations and some kindhearted individuals donated to the fund. The group along with the donation of the Catholic Church of KD 2,000 was able to raise around KD3,600 last year. With the recent donation of the ALLFIL-OK of KD2,400, this now completes the KD 6,000 blood money for Urbiztondo.

Urbiztondo,  41, a native of Bacoor, Cavite in the Philippines appealed last year to the Philippine government thru a letter addressed to Vice President Jejomar Binay and also called on the Filipino community in Kuwait to be given a new lease of life by helping him secure a tanazul (letter of forgiveness) from the family of his victim.

Urbiztondo stated in his letter that for him to gain his freedom he needs a tanazul or a letter of forgiveness from the family of the victim in Bangladesh and to obtain that tanazul requires the payment of dia or blood money amounting to KD 6,000 as informed by his Kuwaiti lawyer, Ahmad Qurban. According to Qurban, under the Kuwaiti law, Urbiztondo is now qualified to apply for an Amiri pardon with the supporting tanazul from the victim’s family.

“It’s heartwarming to know that with the help of everyone in the Filipino 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 Ana Del Mundo, the President of the Philippine Society of Marketing Specialists in Kuwait who also thanked all those who watched and supported the musical concert last January.

During the Thanksgiving and Recognition Ceremony, the ALLFIL-OK also distributed checks to some of its member groups that helped during the concert. The checks will be used to fund their respective projects. One of the recipients was the Mga Oragon sa Kuwait with its President Ann Abunda receiving the check which will be used for the benefit of students in one school in Camarines Sur in the Philippines.

The blood money collected by the Filipino community will be turned over to the Philippine Embassy that will contact the victim’s family in Bangladesh thru the Bangladeshi Embassy in Kuwait to secure the needed tanazul or letter of forgiveness.

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