An overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to death for murder and is set to be beheaded this week – unless his family can raise over $1 million (55 million pesos) blood money.

Vice President and presidential adviser on OFW concerns Jejomar Binay said the government had written a letter to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to appeal for clemency for Joselito Zapanta and give his family time to raise the amount.

Zapanta was convicted in 2009 for killing his Sudanese landlord after the man had allegedly demanded rent before it was due. According to reports, Zapanta’s employer failed to pay his salary and allegedly killed Salem Imam Ibrahim in self-defense when the landlord beat him.

Under Saudi’s laws or based on Islam, the punishment should be equivalent to the offense committed, and the accused may be spared execution if blood money is paid to the family.

The government said it had provided 5 million pesos towards the total and has assisted Zapanta legally and financially. A source from the Department of Foreign Affairs said the government will not shoulder the entire amount under a policy which puts a certain cap on spending for blood money.