MANILA, Philippines – The mother and sister of a Filipino on death row in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday left Manila to visit their relative.
Zapanta, who was convicted for the murder of a Sudanese national and jailed in 2009, needs SR5 million (P55 million) in blood money by November 14 to be spared from execution.
The Zapanta family has so far raised SR 400,000 (P4.39 million).
Vice President Jejomar Binay asked for prayers for Zapanta as the deadline for the submission of blood money nears.
"Ipagdasal po natin ang ating kababayan na si Joselito Zapanta. Sana naman po sa tulong ng ating mga panalangin ay madugtungan ang kanyang buhay," Binay said in a statement.
Zapanta's mother and sister left for Saudi Arabia Tuesday with the permission of Saudi authorities. They were accompanied by personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant and Workers Affairs.
Binay said the Philippine government is exploring all options to extend the deadline for the payment of the blood money to the Sudanese national's family.
Binay had earlier sent a letter to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud seeking for a deferment of Zapanta's death sentence.
"I join our President, Benigno Aquino III, in seeking your intercession in the deferment of the sentence imposed on a Filipino national, Joselito Lidasan Zapanta,” Binay said in his letter.
“The deferment, which we seek on compassionate grounds, will allow the family of Mr. Zapanta to raise the blood money of SR5 million being asked by the heirs of his victim Salah Imam Ibrahim,” he added.