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    Posted June 27, 2015 by

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    In the womb of time: 19 years in Kuwait's Central Prison, Part III

    Netizens take cudgel for Kuwait OFW
    as no gov't official is taking notice

    Is there forever?

    Whether there is forever or none, former Philippine tennis player, and later coach, and trainer Joseph Yusuf Urbiztondo, 43, cannot wait forever.

    He is nearly two decades behind bars in Kuwait's Sulaibiya Central Prison already. That makes him the longest detained OFW in Kuwait's jails.

    The overseas Filipino worker (OFW) of Bacolor, Cavite, has been pleading, crying for help since last year from President Aquino, Vice President Jojo Binay and other Filipinos.

    Urbiztondo said none has responded to his pleas. Yet.

    Except for netizens on Facebook who have banded together for their fellow "kababayan's" (fellow countryman's) sake.

    Miramar Valeriano-Hiraoka, a Japan-based alumnus of the Batch 1981 Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila, Philippines, started the donation ball rolling.

    "My dear friends, requesting for your 100 pesos contribution for our 'kababayan' Joseph Yusuf Urbiztondo. Isang daang piso po lamang galing sa bawat isa sa atin at malaking tulong na po sa ating 'kababayan'," said Valeriano-Hiraoka this month of June 25.

    (Only 100 pesos from each of us will be a big help already for our countryman.)

    Nelia Z. Layug Cristobal and Marissa Picardal have agreed to receive and keep the contributions safe.

    ​ Lally Fontanillas Ferriol said in her comment: "I hope the government will help, specially our President (Aquino) and the Vice President​ (Binay)."

    Esther Gallardo, a Manila-based journalist covering the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), has been one of the most ardent supporters in calling for help for Urbiztondo. She is often in contact with the OFW through cell phone or on Facebook.

    Urbiztondo is serving time for the death of a Bangladeshi migrant worker, Azizur Rahman, in 1996. He continues to deny to this day that he did it.

    Nonetheless, since July 16, 1996, "home" for the Cavite resident has been his prison cell.

    Through the efforts of Consul General Noordin P. Lomondot of the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, an heir and son of Rahman has agreed to forgive Urbiztondo.

    As in the cases of other OFWs' saved from the gallows in the Middle East, a "diyah" or blood money is required as compensation for the family of the Bangladeshi before the heir will sign the forgiveness (tanazul) paper.

    In April 2014, the heir asked for US$26,000 as blood money, and promised to execute and sign the tanazul (affidavit of forgiveness).

    Urbiztondo said a total of US$20,000 had already been donated by the Catholic Church in Kuwait and OFWs and is being kept by the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait through Consul General Raul Dado.

    Now, only US$6,000 is needed to complete the blood money that will unlock the key to Urbiztondo's prison cell and freedom.

    Once the tanazul is in the hands of the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, it will be submitted to Kuwaiti authorities to start the process for the release of Urbiztondo.

    The OFW wished that he could be released before the end of the month-long holy fasting month of Ramadan that started on June 18.

    What is delaying the tanazul is just over 270,000 pesos in Philippine currency or US$6,000 (US$1-P45.2).

    But so far, Urbiztondo's yearning for freedom and plea for help from Aquino and Binay have yet to receive an answer.

    Thus, some netizens have banded together to contribute at least P100 pesos each (US$2.21) for the suffering OFW's cause.

    Netizens also wonder why the government is only frantic when an OFW is about to be put on the firing squad. #
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