MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta, who was scheduled for execution in Saudi Arabia , has been given a three-month reprieve by the Saudi government, Vice President Jejomar Binay announced in a press conference on Tuesday.
Binay, who is also the presidential adviser for OFW concerns, said that Saudi King Abdullah has given an order to defer the execution of all qizas or death penalty cases in the Arab country, including that of Zapanta.
“[D]ahil sa kautusan ng Hari ng Saudi Arabia na ipagpaliban ang lahat ng kaso na ang hatol ay pagpugot ng ulo, nabigyan ng tatlong buwan na palugit o extension ang ating kababayan na si Joselito Zapanta,” he said.
(Because the King of Saudi Arabia has delayed the executions, Joselito Zapanta has been given a three-month reprieve.)
This was confirmed, he said, by Adbulaziz Abdulrahman Al Gaeit, the Assistant of the Undersecretary for Public Rights of the Emir’s Office, who met with the Philippine Embassy officials in Riyadh.
Binay said Zapanta’s reprieve would start the day after the deadline set by the victim’s relatives for the payment of the blood money.
“This is today, March 12, and the three-month reprieve will end on June 8, 2013,” he said.
But he clarified that the reprieve did not mean that the deadline set for Zapanta’s family to pay the blood money has also been extended.
“The family of the victim has no decision on this matter and our embassy will try to work also for the extension of the deadline for the payment of blood money,” he said.
Binay again thanked King Abdullah “for yet another humanitarian gesture.”
“His benevolence has given our kababayan a three month lease on life, and his family additional time to raise the blood money,” he said.
“We also wish to thank the Emir’s Office for their efforts in facilitating the amicable settlement and forgiveness, as well as the extension of the deadlines, allowing the maximum period for the settlement of the amount.”
The Vice President also revealed that President Benigno Aquino III and Zapanta’s mother, Maymona, both wrote King Abdullan on March 9 to ask for his help.
Binay said Zapanta and his mother were able to talk last March 10, when the latter, accompanied by Philippine Embassy officials, visited her son in jail.
The Vice President reiterated his appeal for help to come up with the full amount needed to secure Zapanta’s freedom.