WHILE the rest of the country is counting days to Christmas Day, the family of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joselito Zapanta is praying hard for the setting back of the execution date of their loved one in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Zapanta worked as a tile-setter in Saudi Arabia in 2007. In June 2009, he was arrested and sentenced to death for the murder of his Sudanese landlord after a quarrel over rent.
In November 2012, the aggrieved Sudanese family, particularly the widow, sought “blood money” amounting to SR 5 million or the equivalent of P50 million. This amount was later reduced to P48 million, P23 million of which the family with the help of the Philippine government was able to raise.
“Unfortunately, the Sudanese family has refused any amount lower than their demand of P48 million. This 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,” Susan Ople, president of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, said.
According to Ople, Joselito’s mother, Ramona Zapanta, and his sister, Rosemay, have sought the help of the center so that they could be able to air their appeal for help through the media.
“The amount is so huge and the family is really cash-strapped and extremely poor,” Ople, who is running for the Senate in next year’s elections, said.
The OFW advocate said she was able to confirm the urgency of Joselito’s request from the Philippine Embassy last Monday, while visiting Saudi Arabia to discuss cases involving distressed OFWs.
In a meeting, Philippine Ambassador to Riyadh Ezzedin Tago told Ople that Joselito’s case has become extremely urgent.
For those who wish to donate any amount to save Joselito Zapanta’s life, they can deposit or remit the money to: Philippine Embassy current account, Saudi Hollandi Bank, 037-040-790-022.
This bank account was specifically opened by the embassy for the “blood money” to be given to the aggrieved Sudanese family.
Contact the Ople Center (833-5337) and/or the DFA-OUMWA for more information and for coordination purposes.
For members of media who would like to interview the Zapanta family, get in touch with Jenny Sespene, the case handler of the Ople Center, at +63995-5566091.
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center is a non-profit organization helping distressed OFWs and human trafficking victims. It has been in existence for more than 10 years. It is headed by Susan Ople, a former Labor undersecretary.