A Filipino man working overseas in Saudi Arabia is due to be beheaded on Nov 14, unless Philippine officials can raise over $1 million in blood money.
Filipino father of two, Joselito Zapanta, left his Manila home in October 14, 2008 to work as a tile setter in Saudi Arabia, hoping to send money to his family in Pampanga, Mexico. As often happens in Saudi, Zapanta's employer failed to pay him.
According to the Phil Star Zapanta's landlord, Sudanese Saleh Imam Ibrahim, demanded his rent before it was due and beat him. In self-defence Zapante accidentally killed Ibrahim. The Pilipinas Reporter writes "there are many witnesses to attest that Joselito did not plan the killing of the Sudanese, but he accidentally killed him as self-defense."
Since June 2009 Zapante has been held in a Saudi prison where he awaits the death sentence, due to be carried out this week. While in prison his family allege he was beaten up by other inmates. However, under Saudi Islamic law Zapante may be spared execution if blood money (diya) is paid to the family of the dead Sudanese man. The diya has been set at P55 million (over $1 million).
Philippine officials are now racing to raise the blood money demanded.
Migrante chair Connie Bragas-Regalado says that the Philippine government is only now exerting efforts to save Zapante from the death sentence. She said: “This is not just an isolated case. We are now seeing a pattern of negligence and last-minute actions. Heads must roll, and it should not be those of our OFWs." An appeal for clemency may be made to Saudi King Abdullah.
Migrante International considers if Zapante is executed it will be due to the negligence of the Philippine government.