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Use blood money to help family bishop urges

MANILA (Agencies): Bishop Ruperto Santos from Balanga, has urged the government to use the blood money raised for overseas Filipino worker, Joselito Zapanta, to help his family which has been left without a breadwinner following his execution in Saudi Arabia on December 29. Zapanta was sentenced to death by the Grand Court in Riyadh in April 2010 for killing his Sudanese landlord.

Bishop Santos, the chairperson of the Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said a portion of the 23 million pesos ($3.8 million) supposedly raised to save Zapanta from execution would be a great help for those he left behind, especially his two children.

The victim’s family had demanded 48 million pesos ($8 million) in exchange for Zapanta’s freedom, but the sum could not be raised. The remains of the 35-year-old worker were buried in Saudi Arabia.

The bishop was quoted by the CBCP News as saying that “(the) blood money should be utilised to free” detained overseas workers and help the bereaved families, such as by financing the education of the children.

Bishop Santos said since the money raised to free Zapanta, currently in a bank account opened by the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia, was donated by overseas workers who suffered in different ways while working abroad, it should be used to “enhance life, promote life and preserve life.” 

He also warned the government not to use the money for personal interest or political motives.

John Monterona, coordinator of Migrante Middle East, said in a statement after the execution that the Philippine government is to blame for failing to intervene in a timely manner with the Saudi king, Salman, with a request to pardon Joselito or halt the execution, or even show its sincerity and determination to raise the much-needed blood money.

According to the statement, Zapanta is the eighth Filipino to be executed abroad since Noynoy Aquino was elected to the presidency; the most under one administration. 

Zapanta travelled to Riyadh in 2008 to work as a tile setter. A year later his Sudanese landlord went to his worksite to ask for his rent even though it was not yet due. 

The conversation degenerated into a fight and the landlord, who was wielding a hammer, was accidentally killed.


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