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OFW faces Christmas execution in Saudi

Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - December 17, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino worker faces possible execution in Saudi Arabia as Christmas draws near, unless he is able to raise P25 million in blood money.

The government and the family of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joselito Zapanta have raised P23 million, but this is still P25 million short of the P48-million compensation demanded by the family of the Sudanese landlord he killed after a heated argument over rent more than two years ago.

OFW advocate Susan Ople said Zapanta needs to raise the remaining amount within two weeks or the Saudi court will impose the death sentence on him.

Fr. Jerome Secillano, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) public affairs committee executive secretary, called not only for prayers but also for donations to raise the remaining amount.

He also called on the Aquino administration to do all it can to help Zapanta.

“We challenge our government officials to exhaust all possible remedies to stay the execution and possibly gain the freedom of our kababayan,” Secillano added.

Ople said Philippine Ambassador to Riyadh Ezzedin Tago has confirmed that Zapanta’s case has become extremely urgent. 

“We are talking about weeks here, hence the need for the family to go public in order to seek everyone’s help,” Ople noted.

According to Ople, the Department of Forwign Affairs (DFA) recently brought Zapanta’s relatives to Saudi Arabia to visit him.

Zapanta started working as a tile-setter in Saudi Arabia in 2007 but was arrested for murder in 2009 and sentenced to death. The aggrieved Sudanese family agreed to a P48-million blood money.

“Unfortunately, the Sudanese family has refused any amount lower than their demand, which means that the Zapanta family needs to raise P25 million in a span of two weeks, or maybe less, considering that a royal decree had already been issued for the implementation of the sentence,” Ople pointed out.

According to Ople, Joselito’s mother Ramona and his sister Rosemay have asked the Blas F. Ople Policy Center for assistance so they could air their appeal for help through the media.

“The amount is so huge and the family is really cash-strapped and extremely poor,” Ople added as she appealed to those who could donate any amount to save Zapanta’s life.

Secillano said until the day of execution comes, they would not lose hope that Zapanta will be spared.  – With Pia Lee-Brago, Evelyn Macairan

A FILIPINO ACIRC BLAS F CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES DEPARTMENT OF FORWIGN AFFAIRS EVELYN MACAIRAN FAMILY OPLE SAUDI ARABIA ZAPANTA
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