Binay renews appeal for P44M for OFW on Saudi death row

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09:34 PM January 17th, 2013

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By: Tarra Quismundo, January 17th, 2013 09:34 PM

Vice President Jejomar Binay. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Vice President Jejomar Binay has renewed his appeal to Filipinos to help raise P44 million and save the life of Joselito Zapanta, an overseas worker facing execution in Saudi Arabia for the killing of his landlord.

The amount of the blood money was lowered from P55 million by the family on representations made by the Philippine government, Binay, the presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ concerns, said.

Zapanta will be executed on March 14 if the money is not paid.

“I write on behalf of a family that is facing the biggest challenge of their lives–to raise P44 million in four months to save their loved one from execution in Saudi Arabia,” said Binay in a letter he sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He said that Zapanta, a 33-year-old tile setter who went abroad to work in 2007, had become “a changed man” in jail.

Zapanta was sentenced to death for the killing of his Sudanese landlord, Saleh Imam Ibrahim, in 2009 during an argument over the rent.

“Officers of the Philippine embassy and Department of Foreign Affairs who have met and spoken to Joselito attest that he is a changed man who has repeatedly sought the forgiveness of the aggrieved family and that of his own,” said Binay.

Originally set for Nov. 14 last year, Zapanta’s execution was deferred for a “nonextendable, nonnegotiable” four months after his victim’s family agreed to a stay and also reduced the amount of blood money.

Initially, the victim’s family asked for 5 million Saudi riyals (roughly P55 million) to spare Zapanta’s life but reduced this to 4 million riyals (P44 million) through “the government’s timely intercession,” said Binay.

“While we welcome the reduction and the additional time within which to raise the money, we must admit it is still a substantial amount,” he said.

Donations from private individuals have trickled in, with one donor giving P1 million and around 400 OFW families chipping in a combined P7,900. The provincial government of Zapanta’s native Pampanga is also helping raise funds for him.

DFA figures showed that around 90 OFWs were in jails around the world facing death at the end of 2012. About 40 of them have since been spared from the death penalty and have had their sentences commuted to time.

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