Migrante Middle East and North Africa suggests that the Philippine government seeks the intervention of the Saudi Reconciliation Committee to appeal to the victim’s family to issue a conditional waiver on Zapanta’s execution until the payment of the blood money will be completed.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Filipino migrant rights group called anew on President Aquino to exert all possible efforts to save overseas Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta who is facing the death sentence.
“President Aquino should have sent Vice President Jejomar Binay in his capacity as the presidential adviser on OFW concerns last month or months before Nov. 3, the ultimatum set by the court as manifested by the aggrieved family, if his administration is really sincere in its effort to save OFW Zapanta and the others who are still on death row in Saudi Arabia,” Migrante Middle East and North Africa coordinator John Leonard Monterona said.
Zapanta was sentenced to die in 2009 after he allegedly killed his Sudanese landlord on May 26, 2009. His family has been trying to save him ever since.
In March 2013, the Saudi government issued a blanket deferment of all pending death penalties. News reports revealed that the deferment is due to the fact that there is a new government and that no death sentence is carried out on the first three months of a new administration.
The deadline for the blood money was also moved from Mar. 12, 2013 to Nov. 3, 2013. The family has appealed for assistance in raising the much-needed blood money amounting to $1.1 million.
Unlike Dondon Lanuza, an OFW who was sentenced to die but was able to pay for his blood money when Saudi King Abdullah shouldered SAR 2.3 million, Zapanta’s family and their friends have to raise the money themselves. So far, they have only managed to raise $250,000.
Arab News reported that Binay held talks with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdulla regarding Zapanta’s case.
In this light, Monterona said that the sending of an appeal letter to the Saudi government would not be enough to save Zapanta’s life. He suggested that the Philippine government seeks the intervention of the Saudi Reconciliation Committee, a quasi-government agency that facilitates talks between the aggrieved and offending parties, to help negotiate with the victim’s family.
Monterona said that if the Saudi Reconciliation Committee will intervene, there might be a chance that the Sudanese family would accept the initial amount of blood money “to get a conditional waiver on Zapanta’s execution until the payment of the blood money will be completed.”
President Aquino, he added, could even “release money from his special purpose funds and other presidential funds to complete the blood money to save the OFWs on death row like Zapanta.”
But this, Monterona said, would not happen because of Aquino’s ‘no blood money’ policy.
Monterona criticized the Department of Foreign Affairs for not providing Zapanta a lawyer during the early stages of the case hearings. He added that Zapanta was only provided with an interpreter.