OFW death sentence deferred; blood money reduced
MANILA, Philippines - Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday revealed more good news on the situation of overseas Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta whose supposed execution today in Saudi Arabia was deferred.
"The very good news is nabigyan ng deferment ang execution ng ating kababayan na si Mr. Zapanta na taga-Mexico, Pampanga. Nabigyan ng deferment ng four months. Initially, ang narinig namin, one month. So the latest now is four months," Binay said.
Zapanta was convicted for the murder of a Sudanese national and jailed in 2009. The family of the victim initially asked for SR 5 million or P55 million in blood money. Binay said the amount was reduced by one million Saudi Riyals.
"P44 million na lang. Siguro, kung saan tayo naroon ngayon, nag-aapela po sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa private sector, na pagtulung-tulungan natin ito kung papaano ‘to. Pero huwag nating pigilan ang dalangin na harinawa ay masalba natin ang buhay ni Mr. Zapanta," Binay said.
However, Binay said the reduced amount is non-extendable and supposed to be non-negotiable. The government and family of the OFW have so far raised SR 400,000 (P4.39 million).
"At least we were able to achieve yung hinahangad initially, yung ma-defer at yung mapababa. Pero dagdagan pa ho natin ang pagdarasal na sana ang katapusan ng nangyayari ay mailigtas natin ang buhay ng ating kababayan," he said.
The vice president credits the efforts of Sudanese embassy officials in Riyadh, as well as representatives of the Saudi king, for interceding on Zapanta's behalf. He also likewise cited the efforts of the Philippine Embassy and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Asked if Zapanta still has a chance following the recent developments on his case, Binay said: "Miracles can happen".
"Baka naman magawan natin ng paraan o baka naman mapababa pa (ang hinihinging blood money). Magpapatuloy tayo ng pag-aapela," he said.
Zapanta's mother and sister left Manila on Tuesday to visit him, with the permission of Saudi authorities. They were accompanied by personnel from the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.