DFA: Saudi royals not likely to save PH worker

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Joselito Zapanta. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Facebook

MANILA, Philippines—The Saudi royal family would likely keep its hands off the Philippine appeal to save jailed Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta from the death penalty as his victim was not a Saudi citizen, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said on Tuesday.

“Because the victim is from Sudan, I don’t think the royal family would be a party that we could count on…. Perhaps, if we were talking about victims from Saudi Arabia. But in this particular case, there has been no response to our letters (of appeal to the Saudi royal family),” said Del Rosario on Tuesday.

The Saudi king played a key role in the release of Filipino Rodelio Lanuza, who was jailed for 13 years for the slay of a Saudi national in self-defense.

Saudi King Abdullah shouldered P25 million (2.3 million Saudi riyals) of the total P32 million (3 million in Saudi riyals) of Lanuza’s blood money, paving the way for his release and homecoming in September.

Zapanta had been given up to Nov. 3 to compensate the family of his victim Saleh Imam Ibrahim—a settlement that would also pave the way for the commutation of his death sentence.

The Philippine government worked against time to appeal for Zapanta’s life, seeking to extend the deadline for him to settle the blood money to the heirs of his Sudanese victim and to reduce its amount of 4 million Saudi riyals or P45 million.

It is currently working with the Sudanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia in hopes of reaching Ibrahim’s family to make the appeal.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has been helping raise Zapanta’s blood money through public appeals, had said the jailed Filipino was “ready to face his fate” and that he “seemed relaxed” despite the circumstances.

Zapanta was sentenced to death for killing Ibrahim, his landlord, over an argument on rental payments in 2009. The Filipino tile fitter was known to have hit Ibrahim repeatedly with a hammer and later ran off with his mobile phone before being arrested by Saudi police.

He was originally set to be executed a year ago but won several reprieves through extended deadlines of his blood money settlement.

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