P55M blood money needed to save OFW

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 08 2012 07:13 PM | Updated as of Nov 14 2012 07:07 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED)  - The government is now in talks with the Saudi government to save a Filipino on death row.

An “unprecedented” P55 million blood money is needed to release Joselito Zapanta from death row, ABS-CBNnews.com sources said.

The deadline is on November 14, 2012.

Zapanta, who hails from Mexico, Pampanga, was sentenced to death by the Saudi Court of First Instance on April 13, 2009. He allegedly killed his Sudanese landlord. He was also accused of theft.

It is not known if the case was appealed. Zapanta is supposedly now locked up in prison in Jeddah.

The blood money was originally set at more than P400 million. Nonetheless, the P55 million is still considered a large sum.

Philippine officials have already asked the Saudi king to intervene.

ABS-CBNnews.com sources said officials still see a glimmer of hope since there is already a “diplomatic” emissary who can broker between the Philippines and the heirs of the landlord.

DFA: A sensitive case

In a phone interview, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Raul Hernandez said he cannot comment on the case.

“It’s a very sensitive case. Rest assured that the Riyadh post is doing everything,” he told ABS-CBNnews.com

He did not also confirm nor deny the blood money issues, saying only he does not have details of the case. “I can’t say anything more, except that [the case] is being negotiated.”

There is no formal government policy with regard to the payment of blood money.

Vice President Jejomar Binay last year formed a technical working group to create and discuss the criteria for determining when to give blood money. Under Islamic laws, the “diyya” is given to the heirs to mitigate a death sentence.

The report of the technical working group has already been submitted to Malacañang.