• Binay still optimistic for doomed OFW

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    As a new deadline nears, Vice President Jejomar Binay has expressed more optimism that overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joselito Zapanta will be spared the death sentence.

    “[I am] officially and personally optimistic that it will be a successful story,” the Vice President said.

    Binay, who is also the Presidential adviser on OFW concerns, said Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Abdul Aziz, nephew of Saudi King Abdullah and emir of the Riyadh region, was reportedly helping the government in raising the needed blood money for Zapanta.

    “The Emir is already helping us. Hopefully he [Zapanta] will be spared,” he added.

    He said the Prince is believed to have pledged one million Saudi riyals for Zapanta’s blood money.

    Binay said the Philippine government and Zapanta’s family have already raised a “substantial amount” but talks to lower the blood money are still ongoing.

    “We have raised a substantial amount already. Maybe we can agree finally [to reduce the amount of the blood money],” he said.

    Zapanta was meted the death sentence in Saudi Arabia for killing Imam Ibrahim, a Sudanese, over a rental dispute in 2009.

    Ibrahim’s family initially demanded SAR 5 million for the execution of a tanazul or affidavit of forgiveness and prevent the imposition of the death penalty, but later reduced the amount to SAR 4 million.

    Binay said President Benigno Aquino 3rd had already given a substantial amount to augment Zapanta’s blood money, but still does not reach the P40 million being demanded by the victim’s family.

    The payment was originally due on November 12, 2012, which was then extended to March 12, 2013.

    Another extension was granted, with the deadline moved to November 3, 2013. A three-month extension was given on November, with the new one-month extension being given this February.

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