Gov't urged to review funding 'blood money' for OFWs on death row

THE government should study the possibility of utilizing public funds to raise "blood money" for distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in order to save them from death penalty.

Escudero made the suggestion in the wake of the execution of Filipino construction worker Joselito Zapanta in Saudi Arabia on December 29 after the Philippine government's efforts to raise $1 million, or roughly P46 million, in blood money fell short.

The government was only able to produce P23 million for the 35-year-old Zapanta, who was convicted of robbery and murder of his Sudanese landlord in 2009.

However, Escudero said that before making such move, the government should first determine its legality by seeking guidance from the Commission on Audit and the courts.

"It is the policy of the government to help raise funds for blood money from voluntary sources, but not to allocate funds from the national treasury for this purpose," Escudero said.

"This policy should be reviewed considering that there are still around 79 Filipinos on death row around the world and based on the record of the Department of Foreign Affairs, with some of them requiring blood money," he added.

Escudero said the government should also go beyond raising blood money by making sure that every OFW facing criminal charges abroad is accorded legal assistance from the time the crime was committed until the case is resolved.

He said it is the government's duty, through its embassies and consulates to ensure that the rights of a Filipino accused of any crime abroad are protected at all times, whether he is guilty or not. (Sunnex)
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