• Gov’t optimistic on reopening negotiations to save OFW Zapanta from execution

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    THE Philippine government has expressed optimism that the negotiations to save Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Joselito Zapanta will be reopened.

    Vice President Jejomar C. Binay on Friday said he is optimistic that the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh will be able to reopen talks between Zapanta and his victim’s family.

    “We remain optimistic that there will be further talks about the blood money. I am hopeful that the family will defer giving authorities the notice for execution once they learn that Zapanta can offer a higher amount compared to what was offered before,” Binay said.

    Zapanta faces possible execution this month unless a settlement is reached with the family of the Sudanese national.

    While he acknowledged that Zapanta has yet to raise the needed SAR4 million (P45 million) asked by the victim’s family, Binay said that the OFW will be able to present a higher amount than what was previously offered.

    This was after donations came in for the OFW following a public appeal made by the Vice President which was supported by Malacañang.

    Zapanta was meted the death sentence for killing Imam Ibrahim, a Sudanese national.

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

    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.

    “Hopefully, the family will open their doors for another negotiation. We will do our best in order to convince them,” said Binay, who is the Presidential adviser on OFW Concerns. RITCHIE A. HORARIO

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