OFW on Saudi death row gets 3-month reprieve
MANILA (UPDATE) – Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has ordered to defer the execution of all qizas or death penalty in the Arab country, including that of overseas Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta.
“Dahil 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,” Vice President Jejomar Binay said in a statement.
Binay said the news was confirmed 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.
“Ibig sabihin, dahil ngayon, March 12 ang deadline, matatapos ang tatlong buwang palugit o reprieve sa June 8, 2013,” Binay said.
However, it appears that the 3-month moratorium on death sentence may be due to the fact that there is a new governor. Saudi tradition dictates that no death sentence will be carried out for a maximum of 3 months into the new governor's term.
Zapanta was sentenced to death for killing a Sudanese in 2009. The deadline for the payment of the blood money ended Tuesday.
The deferment would give Zapanta’s family more time to raise the needed P44-million blood money required to save his life. So far, only P10-million has been raised.
“Wala pa pong desisyon ang kaanak ng biktima sa usaping yan. At yan po ang binibigyang pansin ng ating Embahada sa Riyadh,” Binay said on the issue of blood money.
Binay again thanked King Abdullah for giving Zapanta a “three month lease on life” and additional time for his family to raise the blood money.
“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,” Binay said.
Likewise, Binay cited the efforts of the Philippine Government, its embassy in Saudi Arabia and the assistance of the DFA under the leadership of Secretary Albert del Rosario.
Earlier on Tuesday, Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), said the government had requested for the extension of the deadline for the blood money to save Zapanta's life.
Presidential deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a text message to media on Monday that President Aquino sent a letter dated March 5, 2013 to Saudi Arabian king for the deferment of Zapanta’s sentence. Aside from the President, Zapanta’s mother also sent a letter to the Saudi Arabian king.