MANILA, Philippines – “Of course, she cried when she recounted her ordeal, and I couldn’t help but also shed tears. But she was an emotionally-strong woman,” narrated the Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz of her recent meeting with a Filipino migrant worker sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jennifer Aresgado Dalquez was “in good condition,” said Baldoz.
The labor chief visited Dalquez in a UAE prison last Thursday, June 18, the first day of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
“She was in prison garb, but not in handcuffs. She was with two uniformed female guards and we talked for over one hour,” Baldoz said.
On appeal, Dalquez’ death sentence stems from a murder conviction handed down by the Al Ain Court of First Instance last May 20.
The 24-year-old murder convict was deployed as a household service worker to Abu Dhabi in UAE. She worked on a live-out arrangement with her employer since November 2013.
In the emotional meeting with Baldoz, Dalquez reiterated that she acted in self-defense when she stabbed her Emirati employer, who she said tried to rape her.
Now in Manila, Baldoz came from the 104th International Labor Conference in Geneva before visiting the imprisoned OFW.
The Cabinet official said Dalquez had requested to see her two children and mother who are based in the Philippines, a matter the government will work on.
She also assured the sentenced OFW that her two children will receive educational assistance from the government, with his son Sadjed already enrolled in a General Santos City school.
Dalquez had appealed her death sentence before an Abu Dhabi appellate court, with Baldoz having “high hopes that the appeal” will prosper. The court has set the hearing on September 3.
At least 92 Filipinos have been meted the death penalty in foreign courts as of March 2015, majority of whom are in Malaysia.
Dalquez adds to the 49 already convicted of murder.
According to the 2013 Commission of Filipino Overseas (CFO) Compendium of Statistics, there are 931,562 Filipinos in the UAE, where Dalquez is.
The Philippines is a known labor-sending country. Over 10.5 million Filipinos are either temporarily working or permanently residing abroad, according to the 2013 CFO compendium. More recent estimates peg the number at 15 million.
While OFWs' remittances boost the economy, President Benigno Aquino III envisions "a government that creates jobs at home so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity." – Rappler.com