Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Villar wants to know status of P23-M 'blood money' for Joselito Zapanta

Senator Cynthia Villar on Tuesday filed a resolution seeking an inquiry on the status 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.
"As one of those who contributed to the blood money for Joselito, along with countless OFWs and sympathizers, I want to know where is the money now and how will it be used," Villar said.
In Senate Resolution 1727, the senator said the amount, which was not utilized, could be allocated to serve some other causes such as to help the children left by Zapanta, aged 12 and 10, or other OFWs on death row.
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.
The family of the Sudanese landlord initially demanded blood money in the amount of 5 million Saudi Rial. The amount was later reduced to 4 million Saudi Rial or P48 million.
Under the Shariah Law, blood money is a compensation given to the family of murder victims for them to forgive the offender so that the latter may no longer be sentenced to death.
At least P23 million in blood money was raised through donations, but it was insufficient to pay the blood money demanded by the victim's family.
The family of the victim has not signified intention of execute a Tanazal or an affidavit of forgiveness, which could possibly stall the death sentence on Zapanta.
Amid efforts of the Department of Foreign Affairs and President Benigno Aquino III to appeal for compassion and deferment of the execution, Zapanta was executed on December 29, 2015.
Because of this, Villar said there is a need to adopt the necessary strategies, policies, and measures in undertaking concerted efforts to save OFWs on death row, under justifiable circumstances, including raising blood money, its allocation to pay the victims, as well as possible utilization to other programs if the amount could not be used anymore for the purpose for which it was intended.
“In the next deliberation of the General Appropriations Act, maybe we can study the need to put up a fund to assist OFWs languishing in jail aside from the P100 million Legal Assistance Fund and the P450 million Repatriation Fund,” she said. —Amita O. Legaspi/KBK, GMA News

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