Vice President Jejomar C. Binay today said the family of Joselito Zapanta has been given another four months to raise the blood money in exchange for the forgiveness of the family of the Sudanese national whom he killed in 2009.
“The very good news is nabigyan ng deferment ang execution ng ating kababayan na si Mr. Zapanta na tiga-Mexico, Pampanga. Nabigyan ng deferment ng four months,” Binay said during an interview at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Real Estate Investment Summit in Makati.
Binay, the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, that the family of Saleh Imam Ibrahim also reduced the amount from SAR 5 million to SAR 4 million after meeting with Saudi officials in Riyadh.
“Yon lang, ito non-extendable supposed to be, at non-negotiable,” he said.
The Vice President commended Philippine Embassy officials for their hardwork and persistence. He dispelled reports that the government had not done anything to help Zapanta.
“Dapat nating kilalanin ang pagsisikap ng embahada sa pamumuno ni Ambassador Ezzedin Tago. Hanggang sa huling sandal ay hindi sila tumigil sa paghahanap ng paraan para mapalawig ang deadline,” he said.
“Gusto ko lamang burahin sa kaisipan ng marami na hindi naman po totoo na wala hong ginagawa ang ating pamahalaan, lalung-lalo na yung embassy doon,” he added.
He said that the Philippine Embassy had been monitoring the case since its initial stages and provided legal assistance to Zapanta since his was a death penalty case.
Binay said the government will continue helping the family raise the amount, as he appealed to private individuals and the private sector for help.
“Siguro, kung saan tayo naroon ngayon, nag-aapela po sa ating mga kababayan, laluna sa private sector, na pagtulung-tulungan natin ito kung papaano ‘to (malilikom),” he said.
He said Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda is spearheading a fund-raising drive to raise the blood money for her provincemate.
“Nakatutuwa dahil sa si Gov. Pineda ay gumagawa ng paraan kung paano ang lalawigan ng Pampanga makakatulong dun sa amount na hinihingi,” he added.
Binay was also optimistic that the blood money could be reduced further.
“As we always say, miracles can happen. Baka naman magawan natin ng paraan o baka naman mapababa pa (ang hinihinging blood money). Magpapatuloy tayo ng pag-aapela dahil sa katayuan ni Mr. Zapanta at kanyang pamilya ay talagang mahirap na mahirap,” he said.
The Vice Presdient considered Zapanta’s stay of execution a miracle.
“May nagagawa talaga ang dasal. Nagpapasalamat ako at nagbigay ng apat na buwan pa ang pamilya ng Sudanese national para mabayaran ang blood money,” he said.
“Dagdagan pa ho natin ang pagdarasal na sana ang katapusan ng nangyayari ay mailigtas natin ang buhay ng ating kababayan,” he added.
The Vice President previously appealed to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud through a letter to intercede in the deferment of the death penalty imposed on Zapanta.
President Benigno Aquino III also sent an earlier appeal in October to King Abdullah. The “qisas”, which is enforced in countries following Shari’a law, prescribes equal punishment for the offense committed against the aggrieved party.
A Saudi court convicted Zapanta of killing Ibrahim with a hammer during a dispute over Zapanta’s rent.
Zapanta was initially given only until Nov. 14 to pay the blood money, but Binay implored the King to stay the execution saying Zapanta’s family was very poor and had no capacity to raise such large amount of money before the deadline.