12/30/2015, 00.00
PHILIPPINES – SAUDI ARABIA
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Filipino worker beheaded in Saudi Arabia for failing to pay "blood money"

Joselito Lidasan Zapanta, a 35-year-old tile-setter, was convicted in 2010 for killing his landlord, which he claimed to have done in self-defence. For his release, the victim’s family demanded a million dollars. For Mgr Santos, the case shows the “travails and perils” faced by Filipino workers abroad.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Joselito Lidasan Zapanta was publicly beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after failing to pay US$ 1 million in blood money.

The Riyadh Grand Court had sentenced the 35-year-old tile-setter to death following a robbery in April 2010 in which he killed his Sudanese landlord, allegedly in self-defence.

The victim’s family had demanded the equivalent of P48 million in “blood money” in exchange for Zapanta’s freedom, setting a two-week deadline earlier this month for payment.

After his family and the Filipino government raised only 23 million pesos, the execution was carried out.

 “We continue to pray, hope and work for the welfare of our OFWs*, that they be safe always,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, who heads the Church’s migrants ministry.

“We are with the family in this moment of grief and tragic loss of life,” he added. “We lift to God’s mercy and forgiving love for the soul of our OFW”.

According to the prelate, Zapanta’s execution, again shows the “travails and perils” faced by Filipino migrant workers.  “This has always been a great pastoral challenge for us — to help our OFWs be better prepared and equipped to deal with new cultures and way of life in a foreign land,” the bishop explained.

In a statement, the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said that the government "has undertaken and exhausted all diplomatic and legal efforts, and extended consular and legal assistance to preserve the life of Mr Zapanta."

About 10 million Filipinos work abroad, including around 2.2 million in Saudi Arabia. They include 79 Filipinos are on death row in various countries, 41 in Malaysia and 27 in Saudi Arabia, said Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose.

* OFW refers to Overseas Filipino workers

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