Parents of OFW on death row in UAE seek Congress’ help
MANILA, Philippines – The parents of Jennifer Dalquez, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) on death row in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sought the help of congressmen to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to save their daughter’s life.
Alicia and Abdulhamid Dalquez joined the following lawmakers who filed a resolution calling on Duterte to seek executive clemency for Jennifer on Wednesday, March 1:
- Rose Marie Arenas, Pangasinan 3rd District
- Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus, Gabriela Women’s Party
- Ariel Casilao, Anakpawis
- France Castro and Antonio Tinio, ACT Teachers
- Sarah Elago, Kabataan
- Carlos Isagani Zarate, Bayan Muna
Except for Arenas, all the lawmakers who filed House Resolution (HR) Number 829 are members of the Makabayan bloc.
Jennifer, who hails from General Santos City, was imprisoned in December 2014 after being convicted of murdering her male employer. (READ: OFW on death row in UAE, kin appeal to Duterte for help)
She maintained, however, that her employer tried to rape her at knifepoint and she accidentally killed him while defending herself. She has two children, whom she last saw in person in 2012. (READ: Fate of Jennifer Dalquez in hands of victim’s children)
In an interview with Rappler, Alicia said she had approached Arenas, who is the inter-parliamentary relations diplomacy chairperson.
“Kami ‘yung lumapit para matulungan kami [at] maligtas 'yung anak namin sa kulungan (We were the ones who approached them so they can help us and save our daughter in prison),” said Alicia.
“Humihingi kami ng tulong kay President Duterte para mapawalang-bisa ‘yung [kaso] at makauwi dito sa Pilipinas upang makapiling niya ang kanyang mga anak. Kasi ‘yung anak niya talagang naghahanap ng ina,” she added.
(We are asking help from President Duterte for the case to be junked and for her to come here in the Philippines so she can be with her children. Her children are really looking for a mother.)
In their resolution, the lawmakers described Jennifer as “just one of millions of Filipino overseas women workers who were left with no choice but to go abroad to seek greener pasture due to unavailability of employment in our country.”
They argued that the government must resort to “proactive” measures to protect OFWs. (READ: Overseas Filipinos and the death penalty: Cases that made headlines)
The lawmakers added that Duterte must seek executive clemency for Jennifer “with a view to strengthen international partnership to the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of overseas Filipino workers.”
Malacañang referred the matter to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Asked to comment on HR 829 which specifically seeks to involve Duterte in saving Dalquez from execution, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said: “That's a matter for the DFA and we will refer to that....It will be the task of the DFA to further that request."
In the case of another OFW on death row, Mary Jane Veloso, Duterte told Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo: "Follow your own laws. I will not interfere." Duterte made the statement in a one-on-one meeting with Jokowi in Indonesia last year, when the Indonesia leader brought up the case of Veloso.
The Philippine government has already provided Dalquez with a lawyer and filed an appeal for her case. In June 2015, then labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz also visited her in prison to check on her and promised to provide assistance to her family.
Responding to Dalquez's request, the DFA brought her parents to the UAE so they could visit her and attend a court hearing.
Migrante claimed the Philippine embassy told Dalquez's family not to approach Migrante for assistance, but the group vowed that it "will not stop until Jennifer is acquitted.” – with reports from Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler