MANILA, Philippines – The Saudi-based Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) on Tuesday renewed their appeal to Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III to send immediately a PH “mercy mission” to aid all Filipinos in the death row, including OFW Joselito Zapanta.
The call was made despite the issuance of a royal decree by Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud freezing Tuesday’s execution of Zapanta, among other OFWs in death row.
“We are renewing our call to the Aquino III govt. to send a mercy mission as last-ditch effort to save OFW Zapanta,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
“We also renew our appeal to the Saudi govt. to spare OFW Zapanta from execution by urging the Sudanese family to give Zapanta’s family enough time to raise the blood money,” Monterona ended.
The migrant rights group earlier assailed the Aquino government’s alleged neglect to the flight of the OFWs in trouble outside the country, particularly the Zapanta’s case.
However, both the Presidential deputy spokesman Abigail Valte and DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez explained that PH government is doing everything and that President Aquino and Joselito’s mother sent a letter to Saudi Arabian king for the deferment of Zapanta’s sentence.
A week later, the 3-month moratorium was approved by the Saudi government and was announced Monday by Vice-president Jejomar Binay, who serves as presidential adviser on OFW concerns.
“Dahil sa kautusan ng Hari ng Saudi Arabia na ipagpaliban ang lahat ng kaso na ang hatol ay pagpugot ng ulo, nabigyan ng tatlong buwan na palugit o extension ang ating kababayan na si Joselito Zapanta,” Vice President Jejomar Binay said.
Binay said the good news was wired by Adbulaziz Abdulrahman Al Gaeit, the Assistant of the Undersecretary for Public Rights of the Emir’s Office, who met with the Philippine embassy officials in Riyadh recently.
“Ibig sabihin, dahil ngayon, March 12 ang deadline, matatapos ang tatlong buwang palugit o reprieve sa June 8, 2013,” Binay said.
“(But) this doesn’t mean we are relieved from the problem. We should exert more effort to save the Filipinos on death row,” Binay added.
Zapanta has been incarcerated in Riyadh jail since 2009 for killing his Sudanese landlord after a heated argument between the two ensued over house rental payment.
The family of the Sudanese, after several reconciliation efforts facilitated by the Saudi Reconciliation Committee (SRC), finally agreed to issue forgiveness to Zapanta in exchange of ‘tanazul’ or blood money amounting P55-M.
The deadline of payments which was reduced to P44 million ended Tuesday. The family of Zapanta only raised P10 million. The decision made by the Saudi king was on time to save Zapanta’s life, at least for 3 months.
Monterona said Migrante chapters in the Middle East are now spearheading vigil prayers and demonstrations to press the Aquino govt. to intensify its efforts to save OFW Zapanta and other OFWs on Saudi death row.