Vice President Jejomar C. Binay appealed for prayers for the deferment of the death penalty imposed on Joselito Zapanta, a Filipino national convicted for murder with robbery of a Sudanese national in Saudi Arabia.

Zapanta’s mother and sister left for Saudi Arabia Tuesday after Saudi authorities allowed them to travel to the Kingdom. They were accompanied by personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant and Workers Affairs.

“Ipagdasal po natin ang ating kababayan na si Joselito Zapanta. Sana naman po sa tulong ng ating mga panalangin ay madugtungan ang kanyang buhay,” Binay said.

Binay said the victim’s family is asking for SR 5 million in blood money or around P55 million to be given by November 14. The family also insisted that the sentence be carried out should Zapanta’s family fail to meet the deadline.

The Vice President added that Zapanta’s family and the Philippine government have raised SR 400,000.

Meanwhile, Binay thanked the Philippine embassy in Riyadh for its efforts in the case of Zapanta. He said the Philippine embassy has been extending legal and financial assistance to Zapanta since he was apprehended in 2009, and until now they continue to explore all avenues to extend the deadline for the payment of blood money.

Binay had earlier sent a letter to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud seeking for a deferment of Zapanta’s death sentence.

“I join our President, Benigno Aquino III, in seeking your intercession in the deferment of the sentence imposed on a Filipino national, Joselito Lidasan Zapanta,” Binay said in his letter.

“The deferment, which we seek on compassionate grounds, will allow the family of Mr. Zapanta to raise the blood money of SR5 million being asked by the heirs of his victim Salah Imam Ibrahim,” he added.