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DFA: Pinoy worker Joselito Zapanta executed in Saudi

Saudi Arabia has executed Joselito Zapanta, the Filipino construction worker sentenced to death in April 2010 for killing a Sudanese national over a rental dispute the previous year, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs regrets to inform the public of the execution of Filipino national, Mr. Joselito Lidasan Zapanta, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 29 December 2015," the DFA said in a statement.

"We offer our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones for their loss," it added.

The DFA said Zapanta, 35, a father of two, was sentenced to death over murder and robbery after the family of the victim, Imam Ibrahim,  refused to execute an Affidavit of Forgiveness or Tanazul in exchange for blood money.

Body will not be repatriated

In a phonepatch interview on radio dzBB, DFA Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said Zapanta was executed at exactly 2:20 p.m. Tuesday (Philippine time) after he was found guilty of the case of murder with robbery by the Riyadh Grand Court in April 2010.

Jose said Zapanta's remains was buried immediately after the execution as part of the common practice of the Saudi government and in accordance with the burial tradition of Islam. He said Zapanta had converted to Islam years ago.

“Agad na pong inilibing si Joselito Zapanta. Unang una, yung mga binibitay po sa Saudi ay karaniwang doon na din talaga inililibing. At pangalawa si Joselito po ay nag-pa convert na sa Islam,” Jose said.

He added: "Hindi na po maibabalik ang katawan dito [sa Pilipinas]."

Based on the dzBB report, the government failed to satisfy the P48 million blood money for the victim's family set by the Riyadh court in exchange for Zapanta's life.

In an interview with GMA News Online last December 16, Zapanta's mother Mona appealed for help as they have so far raised P23 million of the P48 million being asked by the victim's family.

Jose said the DFA has already informed Zapanta's family in the Philippines about the execution.

He clarified that even the Philippine government was not made aware of the exact day and time of Zapanta's execution.

“Alam po natin na anytime [ay pwede siyang bitayin] since yung pamilya nga po ng biktima ay tumanggi sa pagpirma ng affidavit of forgiveness. But practice po sa Saudi 'yan that they don't announce the exact date and time of the execution,” he said.

Gov't assistance provided

According to the DFA, 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."

It said the government had provided the Zapanta all necessary assistance and ensured that his legal rights were observed throughout the whole judicial process.

Among the assistance extended to Zapanta and his family was the facilitation and funding for the jail visits of his mother and sister to the Malaz Central Prison on November 28 to December 2, 2015, and on March 8 2013 and in November 2012.

With Zapanta's execution, the DFA reiterated its appeal to all Filipinos overseas to "follow the local laws of their host countries at all times and to avoid involvement in criminal activities." —with Elizabeth Marcelo/KBK/ALG, GMA News