Manila: The presidential palace has created a panel that will address the issue of ‘blood money' sought from Filipinos facing death sentence abroad.

Some observers claim the amount of compensation for the families of victims has been increasing.

The palace's technical working group will address matters concerning blood money or ‘diya' sought from Filipinos who are on death row abroad, particularly in Muslim countries.

According to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, they have noticed the amount being sought is increasing.

During the past administration under President Gloria Arroyo, the government had been assisting Filipinos sentenced to death by helping their family raise money for the diya.

The Philippine government helps people facing execution abroad through organisations such as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

But with the increasing amount being sought Lacerda fears the government will arrive at a point that it will not be able to sustain paying the money.

"Based on the assessment of the Department of Foreign Affairs, it is not going to be sustainable," Lacierda said.

Lacierda said this was the reason President Benigno Aquino ordered the formation of the technical working group which is comprised by government agencies involved in sending Filipinos abroad.

Appeal for help

Human rights group, Migrante, Middle East, said death row prisoner Rodelio ‘Don-Don' Lanuza had appealed for help from the Aquino administration for P35million (Dh3 million) diya. Aquino created the technical working group to address the plight not only of Lanuza but also other convicted Filipinos in foreign countries.

In 2000, Lanuza was convicted for killing a Saudi national. Lanuza, who claimed self-defence, has been detained in Dammam Central jail, eastern Saudi Arabia.

However, in 2003, the victim's family issued an ‘affidavit of desistance' to Lanuza in exchange for an undisclosed amount of diya or blood money

As well as Lanuza, there are other Filipinos in line for execution across the Middle East.