THE creation of a ‘blood money’ committee would greatly expedite the process of saving Filipino workers from the death penalty in Arab countries.
Thus declared Vice President Jejomar Binay as he welcomed the move by President Benigno Aquino 3rd creating a committee tasked to study and create guidelines on the payment of blood money for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on death row in the Middle East.
“Having clear-cut guidelines on the use of blood money would greatly speed up the process of saving OFWs from the death penalty in Arab countries where the Sharia law applies,” Binay said in a statement on Tuesday.
It was Binay, presidential adviser on OFW concerns, who recommended the creation of the committee to Aquino.
“A speedier resolution would, in turn, greatly reduce the emotional stress and anguish of our OFWs and their families, especially those who are already in death row,” he added.
Blood money is the financial compensation paid to the heirs of a victim in exchange for the execution of an affidavit of forgiveness.
The Vice President said as of January 14, there are 26 death penalty cases in the Middle East involving OFWs being monitored by the Department of Foreign Affair’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Worker’s Affairs.
Other members appointed by the President to the committee include Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman.
The committee is tasked to study all aspects of blood money cases, including who is eligible for blood money and studying each and every cases requiring the payment of blood money in the future.
The committee will also study other types of support the government can provide OFWs.
At the same time, Binay also reiterated his appeal to help in raising the blood money to save OFW Joselito Zapanta from execution in Saudi Arabia.
Binay earlier said that Aquino had already given a “substantial” amount to augment Zapanta’s blood money but was still not enough to meet the amount being demanded by the victim’s family.
The government is currently negotiating with the victim’s family to lower the amount.
The payment of the blood money was originally due on November 12, 2012, but was extended to March 12, 2013. A second extension was granted, with the deadline moved to November 3, 2013.
Donations for Zapanta 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.