With deadline for blood money payment up Tuesday, PH pleads anew for OFWBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has again appealed to Saudi Arabia to extend the deadline for the payment of blood money by jailed overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joselito Zapanta so he could escape the death penalty, Vice President Jejomar Binay said on Monday.
Zapanta was convicted of killing his Sudanese landlord in 2009.
Binay, also the presidential adviser for overseas Filipino workers’ concerns, said Philippine Embassy officials in Jeddah renewed their appeal for Zapanta’s life as the blood money in the amount of P44 million was due Tuesday.
It was the Philippine government’s third appeal for an extension of the payment deadline. Zapanta’s mother and sister flew to Saudi Arabia on Saturday hoping to see him.
“We have not wavered in our efforts to seek an extension of the deadline and a reduction in the amount,” Binay said.
“Right now, we can’t tell you all the steps we are taking because this is a sensitive matter. But we assure you the government is doing everything it can to save Joselito,” he said.
The family of Saleh Imam Ibrahim, the Sudanese national Zapanta killed in 2009 during an argument over rent, had agreed to defer for a “nonextendable, nonnegotiable” period of four months Zapanta’s execution which was originally scheduled for Nov. 14 last year.
The period expires Tuesday. The Philippine government, primarily through efforts led by Binay, has raised only P10 million of the P44 million.
Saying that Zapanta was a “changed man” going in his fourth year behind bars, Binay has repeatedly appealed to the public for donations to the fund. Barely a fourth of the total has been raised in the last few months, however.
Zapanta, 33, was a tile setter from Pampanga who flew to Saudi Arabia in 2007 for work. He received the death penalty for the killing of Saleh.
The blood money was initially set at 5 million Saudi rials (roughly P55 million) but this was reduced to 4 million rials (P44 million) through “the government’s timely intercession,” said Binay, who appealed to the public anew to help Zapanta.