• PNoy urged to seek Saudi reconciliation committee’s intervention to save Zapanta

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    A Filipino migrants rights group on Tuesday urged President Benigno Aquino 3rd to seek the intervention of Saudi reconciliation committee to save Joselito Zapanta from execution.

    Migrante-Middle East and North Africa (M-MENA) coordinator John Leonard Monterona said sending an appeal letter to the Saudi government was not enough to save the life of Zapanta and was an exercise in futility.

    He said the reconciliation committee could help in asking the family of Zapanta’s victim to either extend the deadline of payment or lower the blood money.

    Monterona suggested that the total amount that has been initially raised for the blood money of Zapanta should be handed over initially to the aggrieved Sudanese family through the Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC).

    The SRC is a quasi-government agency active in dealing negotiations between the aggrieved and offending parties involving death row cases.

    On 2012, the Sudanese family finally agreed to accept the blood money amounting to 4-million Saudi rials after series of negotiations initiated by the Saudi Reconciliation Committee.

    The blood money of Zapanta have reportedly reached 520,831 Saudi rials (SAR), roughly equivalent to P6 million, which is way below the P45 million demand of the victim’s family.

    “If it is true that His Highness Saudi King Abdullah shouldered the 2.3-million SAR out of the total 4-million SAR, plus the 520,831 SAR raised from the contributions from the Pampanga provincial government, from OFWs and OFW groups, and other contributors, then there is a big chance that the Sudanese family will accept the initial amount of blood money to get a conditional waiver on Zapanta’s execution until the blood money will be completed,” Monterona explained.

    On April 13, 2010, Saudi court of First Instance meted death to Zapanta after he killed his Sudanese landlord sometime June 2009 over house rental quarrel.

    He likewise lambasted the Aquino administration for failing to act on the case of Zapanta early.

    If the President, he added, is “really sincere to save Zapanta,” he should have sent Vice President Jejomar Binay in his capacity as the presidential adviser on OFWs concerns last month or months before the November 3 ultimatum set by the Court as manifested by the aggrieved family.

    “PNoy could even share fund from its special purpose funds and presidential funds to complete the blood money to save the OFWs on death row like Zapanta, but this would not happen because of PNoy’s standing ‘No blood money’ policy,” Monterona added.

    Monterona lambasted the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for its failure to provide a local-hired lawyer to Zapanta during case hearings. “Only an interpreter was provided during case hearings.”

    “The DFA only provided legal assistance after the Saudi court meted death to Zapanta when the Zapanta family decided to file an appeal on May 2010,” Monterona revealed.

    RITCHIE A. HORARIO

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