Jailed OFW being starved in prison

An overseas Filipino worker sentenced to death is now being starved in prison.

Joselito Zapanta, 30, who is now staying in one of the jails in Riyadh, was sentenced to death for the accidental murder of his Sudanese landlord last April 13.

The jailed OFW, according to his family, had not been given his supply of food and water, John Leonard Monterona, Migrante Mid-East coordinator said in a private message through a social networking site.

“Migrante national headquarters in Manila told us that his family had called, asking for help, for Joselito is not given any food nor water… that was four days ago,” Monterona said in his e-mail.

This is the second time that Zapanta had complained about his condition. Last May 2010, he told his relatives that he had been beaten by a fellow prisoner.

Last July 4, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced that they have already filed a motion for appeal in the Saudi Appellate Court for Zapanta and two other cases, saying that they are dealing with the case with much sensitivity, as prescribed by the court processes.

However, Monterona fears that his appeal won’t prosper as the DFA did not confirm if it had already hired a Shariah lawyer.

“The last time that we have spoken with Zapana, he told us that he was only given two interpreters, instead of lawyers, during his hearing in the lower court. That’s why, although he has strong chances of winning his case, he was sentenced to death because of misrepresentation in court. And we are afraid that this would happen again on his appeal,” Monterona told CBCPNews.

Monterona, meanwhile, urges the Philippine government to ensure that all jailed OFWs all over Middle East are in good condition and their rights and welfare are being upheld, as provided by the international humanitarian laws, by having routine visits in different jails in the region.

“By conducting regular jail visits, not just on the basis of request, the RP posts would know the conditions of jailed OFWs and that it could attend on jailed OFWs’ simple needs such as toiletries or ask the jail warden to provide food and water to jailed OFWs and treat them humanely,” he said.

He also urged the Philippine post’s Assistance to the Nationals Unit (ANU) in Riyadh to immediately attend Zapanta’s family plea that he be visited in jail so that he’ll be given the needed assistance.

“We will highly appreciate if the ANU would provide a report on the condition of OFW Zapanta and other OFWs in various jails in the Kingdom especially those OFWs whose sentence is death and those on death row, and immediately inform their respective family in the Philippines hoping that by doing this their anxiety will be lessened,” said Monterona.