THE Philippine government has a policy of helping the families of OFWs in the Middle East who commit the crime of killing an Arab and is sentenced to death for the crime but whose execution could be stopped if the dead person’s family agrees to be paid “blood money.”
Very often, the OFWs who find themselves in this horrible situation killed someone in self-defense, or in the case of women, in defense of their honor–they killed perpetrators attempting to rape them. But there have been instances when our compatriot found guilty of killing someone did so in anger and in felonious circumstances.
Some Filipinos don’t like to give help to Filipinos who face execution in the Middle East after committing felonies for which they would also be punished if they were back home.
The government policy is to help raise blood money from voluntary sources but not to allocate funds from the national treasury.
One problem is when the Arab family asks for a sum for which the Filipino’s family and the government cannot raise.
This was the case of the recent victim, Joselito Zapanta. The Philippine Embassy raised P23 million but the Saudi widow of the man Joselito had killed wanted more money. So Joselito was executed the other day.
We wholeheartedly endorse the advocacy of the Blas Ople Policy Center, spoken on Wednesday by OFW advocate Susan Ople, that part of the P23 million raised for Joselito and is now in a bank account for future blood-money use, be released to aid the late Joselito’s mother who is seriously ill and needs medical attention. Joselito’s death has devastated her and worsened her medical condition. He also left two little daughters.
Ms. Susan Ople urges the government to donate a certain percentage of the blood money raised to save Joselito Zapanta to his grieving family and the rest to help other OFWs on death row.
She made the appeal after Zapanta’s execution in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. She has been assisting the Zapanta family since 2013 through the non-government organization Blas F. Ople Policy Center which she heads.
“Joselito left behind two children, who are only 13 and 11 years of age. His mother, Ramona, is also in need of medical attention. I appeal to our government to provide much needed assistance to the family especially now that Joselito is gone,” she said.
The OFW advocate also called for a review of the government’s policy on blood money cases considering that there are 90 Filipinos on death row all over the world, with some of them also requiring blood money.
We zealously support Ms. Ople’s recommendation that a special government unit be formed to handle death penalty and blood money cases involving OFWs.
She said, “The DFA should not be alone in this task because their role is limited to diplomatic functions and assistance to nationals through talks with their counterparts. A more cohesive and transparent mechanism and policy are needed because there are still several pending and urgent blood money cases involving OFWs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.“