Doomed OFW’s kin renew appeal for helpBy Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The family of overseas Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta on Wednesday reiterated its appeal for help in raising P44 million in blood money in four months so the condemned OFW can be spared from execution next year.
“I’m begging, knocking at your hearts and asking for help. Please help us, I want my son to live,” Zapanta’s mother, Mona, said in between sobs during an interview held at the sidelines of the Christmas party organized for overseas Filipino workers’ families by the Blas F. Ople Center.
The government of Saudi Arabia has stayed the execution of Zapanta by four more months, giving his family more time to raise blood money to settle with the family of his Sudanese victim.
Zapanta’s 50-year-old mother made the same appeal to OFWs and their families who attended the event. She said she was able to talk to her son at the Saudi detention center and he was deeply grateful for those praying for him.
“Joselito Zapanta admitted to the crime but has also sought forgiveness from the aggrieved family for what he has done. In the spirit of Christmas, we support Nanay Mona’s appeal because everyday and every peso counts in this herculean fund-raising effort,” labor advocate Susan Ople said.
She added that the Zapanta case has the biggest blood money requirement so far from an aggrieved family and that Zapanta’s family will not be able to raise such a substantial amount on their own.
“Nanay Mona is a housewife with health problems while her husband is a carpenter. Joselito has two children of his own and is the sole breadwinner of the family. If you were in Nanay Mona’s place, wouldn’t you also appeal to everyone and do everything possible in four months to save your son’s life?,” Ople added.
In response, the OFW families contributed varying amounts after a donation box was passed around following Mona’s appeal.
Donation boxes for victims of typhoon Pablo were also set up at designated areas for those who wish to help out. According to the Ople Center, donations for typhoon victims will be coursed through the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration.
“We celebrate Christmas as one family with hope and joy in our hearts despite all the challenges confronting our OFWs. This annual Christmas celebration is our way of providing OFW families with the opportunity to feel the spirit of Christmas together, with people who most understand how it feels to have an OFW loved one so far away during the yuletide season,” Ople said.
Meanwhile, the gathering also coincided with the launching of “OFWs for Peace,” part of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process’ (OPAPP) campaign to mobilize public support for peace through the involvement of various sectors.
Presidential Peace Adviser Secretary Teresita Deles administered the peace volunteers’ oath to officers of the OFWs for Peace movement headed by Engineer Francisco Aguilar Jr., a former OFW.
The OFWs for Peace will use social media to communicate peace gains and developments in Mindanao to Filipino community groups across the globe in partnership with OPAPP. The Ople Center will serve as its secretariat.