4-month deadline to end on March 17
MANILA, Philippines – There is still a long way to go before the blood money needed to save another overseas Filipino worker on death row in Saudi Arabia is raised.
“I am appealing to all our kindhearted kababayans to donate any amount you can spare and help save Joselito’s life,” said Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Binay said Joselito Zapanta’s family is poor and cannot raise the P44 million by themselves.
“We need everyone’s help to be able to lighten their burden,” Binay said.
Last November, Zapanta was given a four month extension or until March 17, 2013 to come up with the blood money in exchange for forgiveness from the family of the Sudanese national whom he killed in 2009.
Both President Aquino and the Vice President appealed to the Saudi King, while Embassy officials pressed their appeal with government officials of Sudan and the victim’s family.
Binay, who also serves as the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, said the Philippine Government has already deposited in Saudi Arabia the equivalent of P4 million, the standard amount allotted for blood money cases that qualify for government assistance.
He said “a kindhearted private individual” also donated P 1 million that was immediately deposited in a Saudi bank account opened by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh to accept donations for Zapanta.
He added that the provincial government of Pampanga led also embarked on a fund-raising campaign for Zapanta. Recently, 400 OFW families in a Christmas party organized by the Blas F. Ople Center, a non-governmental organization, donated P7,900 to the Save Zapanta fund.
Zapanta went to Saudi Arabia in 2007 to work as a tile setter to support his parents and two children.
“The blood money originally required for his freedom was pegged by the Saudi court at P50 million or SAR 500,000, but our government’s timely intercession led to the lowering of the amount to SAR 400,000 or P44 million,” Binay said.
“While we welcome the reduction and the additional time within which to raise the amount, we must admit it is still a substantial amount,” he added.
The Vice President said Embassy and Department of Foreign Affairs officials who have met and spoken to Zapanta “attest that he is a changed man who has repeatedly sought the forgiveness of the aggrieved family and that of his own.”