OFW who killed boss to avoid rape home from UAE death row
The first thing that overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jennifer Dalquez did the moment her plane landed in Manila was rush to her parents to give them a tight embrace.
Between sobs, Dalquez told them, “Malaya na po ako (I am free).”
Acquitted after four years in an Abu Dhabi prison for killing her employer in 2014, the domestic helper arrived in Manila on Monday morning with 86 undocumented Filipinos who had availed themselves of the government’s repatriation program.
“I am thankful to President Duterte for all his help. Thank you for letting me get out of prison alive. The government did not forsake me after all this time,” she said.
Dalquez, who also thanked her parents for their prayers, said her hope had never wavered. “I did not fear death because I knew I was not going to be executed. I had faith in God that I will be set free,” she added.
She was sentenced to death in May 2015 for the killing of her employer who, she said, attempted to rape her at knifepoint in December 2014. She pleaded self-defense.
The case dragged on because her employer’s children had failed to attend the hearings. Under Shariah, they would be asked to swear 50 times in the name of Allah that Dalquez was the only person who had killed their father. Only then would the court uphold her death sentence.
In June 2017, after being in death row for two years, Dalquez was acquitted of murder by an appellate court. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the OFW was declared innocent without “diyyah,” or the payment of blood money.
But Dalquez had to serve an additional five-year jail term for stealing a mobile phone. She completed her sentence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Oct. 25 this year.
Dalquez left General Santos City in December 2012 to find work in UAE to help her father, a pedicab driver. She had to leave her two young children, now 10 and 7, under the care of her parents.
“I want to see them soon, I long to hug them and be their mother again,” she said of the children she had left behind some seven years ago.
But the family isn’t flying home to General Santos City just yet, as they want to personally thank their supporters.
On Nov. 4, the family will be offering a thanksgiving Mass at Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Parañaque City, where they will be joined by the family of Mary Jane Veloso, another OFW jailed on drug charges in Indonesia.
Although the government had provided Dalquez a lawyer for the case, the militant group Migrante International said the government acted on the case only because of “public clamor.”
“Otherwise, [Dalquez] would remain as another faceless statistic bereft of government support,” said Migrante spokesperson Arman Hernando.
The DFA spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato, said the DFA would shoulder all of Dalquez’s accommodation and travel expenses back to General Santos. It will also extend a P100,000 financial assistance, on top of the scholarship and livelihood assistance to be given by the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration.
While Dalquez said she was unsure whether she would be returning to another foreign land in search of greener pastures, her mother Alicia hopes she would stay put this time.
“I don’t want her to go to another country to work,” she said. “If President Duterte can help my daughter in her new life, I’d ask him to give her and her father work so she’ll just stay home.”
Hernando called on the Duterte administration to treat the elder Dalquez’s plea as a “challenge.”
“No one wants to get separated from their families. Not one Filipino will ever think of gambling his or her life in another country or work for foreigners, if the government can provide them a regular job here with a decent and liveable income,” he said.
According to a 2016 report of the DFA, 130 Filipinos are facing execution mostly for drug-related offenses out of the 3,827 detained in 11 countries around the world. About 137 are serving life sentences. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH
Source: Inquirer Archives
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