Binay hopeful of reprieve for doomed OFW

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Vice President Jejomar Binay said he remained optimistic that the Philippine embassy in Riyadh would be able to reopen talks between overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joselito Zapanta and the family of his victim.

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Zapanta faces possible execution this month unless a settlement is reached with the family of the Sudanese national that a Saudi court determined was killed by the OFW.

Binay acknowledged that Zapanta had yet to raise the needed SAR4 million (P45 million) blood money sought by the victim’s family, but would be able to present a larger sum than previously offered.

Zapanta was meted the death sentence for killing Imam Ibrahim. The last deadline for payment of the blood money was November 3, last year.

In another development, Binay welcomed the decision of Saudi Arabia to give undocumented migrant workers in the Kingdom a two-month grace period to correct their work status.

Binay said the extension would ease the anxieties of the remaining undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia and their families.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said Saudi Interior Minister Prince Muhammad bid Naif ordered the completion of correction procedures of expatriates before March 1.

“I would like to especially thank King Abdullah for once again showing his kindness and compassion in allowing the extension,” Binay said.

“The extension will allow us more time to process the documents to legalize the stay of the remaining overseas Filipino workers or process the repatriation of those who wish to come home,” he added.

Binay also reiterated his appeal to remaining undocumented OFWs in Saudi Arabia to submit all necessary documents to legalize their stay in the country.

“Once again, I appeal to our kababayans to use this additional time to submit all the needed requirements to the Philippine Embassy,” he said.

The crackdown against illegal workers started on March 28 last year because of the “Saudization” policy, which encourages the employment of Saudi nationals in private firms.

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