OFW on death row in UAE, kin appeal to Duterte for help

MANILA, Philippines – An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) appealed on Monday, February 27, to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for help getting out of death row. 

"Nagmamakaawa po ako sa mahal nating pangulo na tulungan niya po ako na makauwi na sa bansa natin. Kayo lang po ang aking pag-asa na makalabas po dito sa kulungan," said Jennifer Dalquez in an audio message sent to the media by Migrante International. 

(I am pleading to our beloved president to please help me get home to our country. You are my only hope in getting out of jail.)

Dalquez, who is from General Santos City, was imprisoned in December 2014 after being convicted of murdering her male employer.

But Dalquez maintained that her Arab employer tried to rape her at knifepoint and she accidentally killed him while defending herself. (READ: Overseas Filipinos and the death penalty: Cases that made headlines)

"Napatay ko po ang aking among pulis dahil tinangka niya po akong gahasain at patayin. Sinunog po niya ako... pinalo ng bote sa mukha, sa bandang taas ng mata. Noong tinangka niya po akong saksakin, nakaiwas po ako at sa awa ng Diyos ay naagaw ko ang kutsilyo sa kanya," she recounted in the audio message.

(I accidentally killed my employer, who is a policeman, because he tried to rape and kill me. He burned me... hit my face with a bottle, just above my eye. When he tried to stab me, I was able to dodge and take the knife from him.)

Dalquez's family also appealed to the President for help. Her husband, Norque Mamantal, said Dalquez has not seen her children for 6 years now.

"Anim na taon na kaming 'di nagkikita sa mga anak niya. Sana matulungan mo mahal na pangulo, Mr President. Alang-alang sa aming mga anak," he said.

(She hasn't seen her children for 6 years. We hope you can help her, Mr President. For the sake of our children.)

Her 9-year-old son and 54-year-old mother also asked for Duterte's help. "Self-defense lamang po ang kanyang ginawa, ipinagtanggol lamang po ang kanyang sarili," Jennifer Arisgad Dalquez said. (It was only self-defense. She was just trying to defend herself.)

Migrante echoed the Dalquez family's appeal, challenging the President to "do everything in his power to free Jennifer Dalquez from the death sentence."

"She is a victim of sexual assault and was merely defending herself from the Emirati police who attempted to rape her. We expect the President to bring her home when he visits UAE next month," Migrante said in a statement.

Dalquez flew to the UAE in December 2012 and initially worked as a domestic helper. She claimed that her employer then also tried to rape her. She later on worked as a cashier in a restaurant and then as an assistant for a doctor. While working as an assistant, Dalquez was cleaning for different households as a part-time job. That's when she met her employer who allegedly tried to rape and kill her.

The Philippine government 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 they "will not stop until Jennifer is acquitted."

"We have enough reasons to be alarmed. Like the previous regimes, the current administration is also guilty of criminal neglect as seen in its handling of the Jakatia Pawa case," they said.

Pawa was an OFW executed in Kuwait earlier this year who claimed innocence in the murder of her Kuwaiti employer's 22-year-old daughter. – Rappler.com