35-year-old Filipino executed in Saudi Arabia

Paterno Esmaquel II
35-year-old Filipino executed in Saudi Arabia
(2nd UPDATE) A father of two, Joselito Lidasan Zapanta is executed in Saudi Arabia because of a case of murder with robbery

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said a 35-year-old Filipino was executed in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, December 29, because of a case of murder with robbery.

The convicted Filipino, Joselito Lidasan Zapanta, was a father of two.

“We offer our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones for their loss,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a text message.

Jose said Zapanta “was convicted for murder with robbery on April 13, 2010, by the Riyadh Grand Court.” The Filipino “was sentenced to death after the family of the victim refused to execute an affidavit of forgiveness (tanazul) in exchange for blood money.

“The Philippine government has undertaken and exhausted all diplomatic and legal efforts, and extended consular and legal assistance to preserve the life of Mr Zapanta. The Philippine government provided the late Mr Zapanta all necessary assistance and ensured that his legal rights were observed throughout the whole judicial process,” the DFA spokesman added.

He said Zapanta leaves behind his father, mother, sister, and two children. “The DFA shall continue to extend assistance to the late Mr Zapanta’s family.”

Jose noted that the Philippine government “arranged and funded the jail visits” of Zapanta’s mother and sister from November 28 to December 2, in March 2013, and in November 2012.

Jose then reminded Filipinos, “We appeal to all our nationals overseas to follow the local laws of their host countries at all times and to avoid involvement in all criminal activities.”

In Malacañang, Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr relayed the government’s condolences to the family of Zapanta.

“The government extends its sympathy and condolences to the family of Joselito Lidasan Zapanta. Despite efforts to preserve his life, appeals for compassion and forgiveness were unheeded and his execution could not be forestalled further under the laws of Saudi Arabia,” Coloma said.

He said that the government will continue assisting its citizens working or residing abroad, through its diplomatic posts.

Binay: I tried to save his life 

Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, for his part, sent his “deepest sympathies” to Zapanta’s family. 

“The Office of the Vice President worked closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and exhausted all diplomatic and legal efforts in order to save the life of Mr Zapanta, including a personal written appeal to the King of Saudi Arabia,” Binay said.

“We likewise issued appeals for help in raising the blood money demanded by the family of his victim, in keeping with Saudi laws. Despite our best efforts, and the kindness and generosity of private individuals, the local government of Pampanga and non-governmental organizations, we were unable to raise the SAR 4 million demanded by the family,” the Vice President added.

Binay served as presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ affairs until June this year, when he resigned from the Aquino Cabinet.

Still courting migrant workers, Binay is now running for president. He issued his statement around 30 minutes after the DFA confirmed Zapanta’s death.

“Rest assured that a Binay administration will give priority to providing jobs for Filipinos here at home so that overseas employment becomes a matter of choice and not necessity. We shall also work for greater government protection and effective assistance for our fellow Filipinos abroad,” Binay said. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.