OFW saved from UAE death row coming home to PH

Don Kevin Hapal

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OFW saved from UAE death row coming home to PH
Jennifer Dalquez, who was sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates for murder but later acquitted, is expected to arrive in the Philippines on Friday, November 2

MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jennifer Dalquez is set to be released from prison in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and will be repatriated back to the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Thursday, November 1. 

The DFA in a statement welcomed Jennifer’s release from prison and said UAE authorities are coordinating with the Philippine Embassy for Jennifer’s flight home on Thursday evening.

Alicia Dalquez, Jennifer’s mother, earlier told Rappler that her daughter herself confirmed the news to her in a phone call on Wednesday, October 31. (TIMELINE: Jennifer Dalquez’s journey to death row an acquittal)

Alicia added that Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac also told her in a phone call  that Jennifer would be released from prison on Thursday, and would be brought directly to the airport for her flight back home. Jennifer will arrive in the Philippines on Friday, November 2, she added.

“Sinabi po niya (Cacdac) na darating po ang anak namin bukas ng umaga. Galing sa kulungan, deretso na po siya sa airport (He said that our daughter will be arriving tomorrow morning. From prison, she will go straight to the airport),” Alicia told Rappler. 

Alicia said that Jennifer would be given a connecting flight to General Santos City. However, her family has asked the government to allow them to meet Jennifer in Manila since they were already here.

She said she was also told that President Rodrigo Duterte would meet with Jennifer and the Dalquez family but no other details were given.

Jennifer, a household worker from General Santos City, was meted the death sentence for murdering her employer in 2014. She maintained that she accidentally killed her employer in self-defense, when he attempted to rape her at knifepoint on December 7, 2014. 

Jennifer was sentenced to death in May 2015 but was acquitted of murder by the Court of Appeals in Al Ain in June 2017.  The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through the Philippine Embassy in the UAE provided her legal assistance and worked for her acquittal.

Although acquitted of murder charges, she had to finish serving her jail term. An Inquirer report  quoted Alicia as saying that her daughter finished serving her jail term  on October 25.

Jennifer had been an OFW in the UAE since December 2011, and had at least 4 employers. Her first employer also attempted to rape her in March 2012. (READ: ‘TIMELINE: Jennifer Dalquez’s journey to death row and acquittal’ )

Militant group Migrante International released a statement on Thursday morning, announcing Jennifer’s “freedom.” 

“We rejoice with her loved ones as we anticipate their soon reunion to celebrate her freedom and new beginning,” it said.

The group, however, also reminded people of other OFWs on death row and in prison, like Mary Jane Veloso. “As we laud our triumph, let us never lose sight of our fellow Filipinos who are still on death row and those thousands of other OFWs languishing in prison,” it said. – Rappler.com

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.