OFW Joselito Zapanta executed in Saudi Arabia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Joselito Zapanta was executed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (December 29) after he was convicted for murder with robbery last 2010, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed.

The 35-year-old was sentenced to death by the Riyadh Grand Court last April 13, 2010 for the murder of a Sudanese national in 2009 after the victim's family refused to execute an Affidavit of Forgiveness (Tanazul) in exchange for blood money.

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DFA Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Charles Jose said Zapanta's body will not be repatriated.

"Well, unfortunately the body will not be repatriated back to the Philippines, because according to practice and law in Saudi Arabia, those who have been executed, will not be allowed to be repatriated," Jose said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

Zapanta is also a Muslim convert, according to the DFA spokesperson, and it is customary to immediately bury the bodies of deceased Muslims.

He was executed at 2:20 p.m. (PHT).

Zapanta is survived by his parents, sister, and two children.

Jose said the Philippine government has executed all diplomatic and legal efforts to assist and preserve the life of Zapanta, adding the DFA will continue to extend assistance to his family.

Presidential Communications spokesperson Herminio Coloma, Jr., in a statement said: "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."

Vice President Jejomar Binay also extended his condolences, adding that he even wrote an appeal to the King of Saudi Arabia, among other efforts, to save the life of Zapanta.

"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-government organizations (NGOs), we were unable to raise the SAR 4 million demanded by the family."