(MENAFN - Arab News) The life of Filipino expat Joselito Zapanta, sentenced to death for murdering a Sudanese in 2009 in Riyadh, hangs in balance with the deadline for payment of blood money having long expired on Nov. 3 last year.
Though the community is a long way off from collecting the required SR2 million, the blood money demanded by the family of the deceased Imam Ibrahim for forgiveness, the Philippine government is still hopeful of saving Zapanta, who murdered Ibrahim, a property manager, over an argument on rental payment.
And the deadline for the payment of the blood money has already been extended twice, making Zapanta's execution imminent now. The government and sympathizers have managed to raise only SR520,831 so far, leaving a shortfall of SR1.48 million. But the optimism seems hopeless in the face of a report on Thursday quoting Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay saying that Zapanta could be executed any time in January as the blood money was yet to be paid and the deadline had expired.
"Once again, I ask everyone to help raise funds for Joselito Zapanta. Let us start this year by helping save the life of a fellow Filipino and bringing joy to his family," Binay, presidential adviser on migrant workers' concerns, said in a statement on Thursday.
Riyadh-based Sudanese expatriate Abdullah M. Ahmad said a close relative of Zapanta should meet with Ibrahim's family and beseech them to spare Zapanta's life on humanitarian grounds.
He said that with the Saudi justice system handing out fair ruling to everybody regardless of their nationality, Ibrahim's family might just consider this aspect and accept an amount that is less than their demand.
"Ibrahim's family demanded SR5 million for the execution of a tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness but later reduced the amount to SR4 million," Binay said in his statement.
Various fellow Filipino expats also posted appeals on social media platforms. On Facebook, they said: "Save the life of Zapanta for his children."
Marlon Dulay asked followers of the group to continue praying for Zapanta, who converted to Islam while in jail and now goes by the name of Abdulatif. "It's his wish to pray for him," Dulay, who created the account group on Facebook, said.
Three convicted OFWs - Sabiniano Yncierto, Saray Janet Dematera and Rodelio "Dondon" Lunaza - who were convicted for similar offenses in the Kingdom, were set free.
Binay said that if Zapanta could muster an amount higher than what has been raised, Ibrahim's family might reconsider and accept the offer. "The payment of the blood money was originally due on Nov. 12, 2012, but was extended to March 12, 2013. A second extension was granted, with the deadline being moved to Nov. 3, 2013," he said.
Donations may be made to the Riyadh Philippine Embassy's sub-account in the Saudi Hollandi Bank: Account Number 037-040-790-022, International Bank Account Number (IBAN): SA 61-5000-0000-0370-4079-0022, Swift Code: AAALSARI.