By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang will be coming up with a policy with regard to the so-called “blood money” that government – usually by force of circumstance – allocates for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are facing legal cases abroad.
This was the decision that officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Budget and Management, Department of Justice and the Office of Political Affairs have arrived at after a meeting Wednesday.
“There was a decision to put up a technical working group (TWG) first to study what would really be the government’s policy regarding blood money because the amount just keeps on increasing everytime,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
“The last time I heard, the blood money reached P35 million. So, the assessment of the DFA is that it is not going to be sustainable in the long term,” the Cabinet secretary said.
President Aquino along attended the meeting, along with DFA Undersecretary Esteban Conejos.
“So that is why they formed a TWG to come up with a viable way of addressing the issue of blood money and once they come up with a policy we will let you (media) know,” Lacierda said. “That is the purpose of the TWG, to study the matter more thoroughly.”
There have been proposals to include blood money in the yearly national budget, but he said this still has to be studied thoroughly.
“We will be studying that system to keep the issue of the amount of blood money reasonable.”
Dondon Lanuza, who has been jailed in the eastern Saudi city of Dammam since August 2000 for the murder of a Saudi national, has been appealing for donations via his Facebook account after the aggrieved family finally agreed to forgive him in exchange for blood money.
The jailed OFW maintains that he killed the victim in self-defense.
“Lanuza expressed serious worries that members of the aggrieved family may suddenly change their mind as the agreed date to provide the blood money has already lapsed; thus he is pleading for assistance from the Philippine government,” Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said in a statement.