Tuesday, February 9, 2016

DFA exec: We have no authority over Zapanta’s blood money

The Department of Foreign Affairs cannot spend even a single centavo of the P23 million raised to save the life of overseas Filipino worker Joselito Zapanta, who was sentenced to death and eventually executed in Saudi Arabia.

DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Charles Jose on Sunday assured the public the money is intact, and that it will be up to the donors to decide whether they want their money back or spent it for other purposes.

“Itong money na ito, ni-raise na ang purpose ay pambayad ng blood money sa pamilya ng biktima ni Joselito Zapanta. Wala kaming authority na gamitin ‘yun for any other purpose," said Jose in an interview on dzBB radio.
"Dahil hindi natuloy yung pagbayad ng blood money, kailangan namin ng decision from the donors on the disposition [of the money],” he added.

Asked if the money could be used to help Zapanta’s family, Jose said: “Hindi kami ang magde-decide noon. Ang DFA ay custodian lamang ng perang ‘yun.”

Also, he said the blood money cannot be reverted to national coffers because it came from private donors.

Earlier reports indicated that the money is in a bank account opened by the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

Zapanta, 35, was sentenced to death for the killing of his Sudanese landlord over a rent dispute and for taking the latter’s mobile phone and cash.

His victim’s family initially demanded 5 million Saudi Rial blood money, but it was later reduced to SR 4 million or P48 million.

Under the Shariah Law, blood money is a compensation given to the family of murder victims to forgive the offender.

At least P23 million in blood money was raised through donations, but it was not enough to save Zapanta.
He was executed on December 29, 2015, despite appeals for compassion and deferment of execution from President Benigno Aquino III and the DFA.
Last week, Senator Cynthia Villar filed a resolution seeking an inquiry to determine the status of Zapanta’s blood money.
She raised the possibility that the amount could be used to serve some other causes such as to help the children left by Zapanta, aged 12 and 10, or other OFWs on death row. — LBG, GMA News

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