OFW Jennifer Dalquez saved from death row in UAE

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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OFW Jennifer Dalquez saved from death row in UAE
(3rd UPDATE) While acquitted of murder, OFW Jennifer Dalquez 'was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment...for stealing a mobile phone,' the DFA says

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jennifer Dalquez was saved from the death row after a court in the United Arab Emirates acquitted her of murder, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed Tuesday, June 20.

The DFA said that based on information from the Philippine embassy in the UAE, the Court of Appeals in Al Ain “acquitted Jennifer Dalquez from the alleged crime of murder at a hearing on June 19, 2017.”

Dalquez, a 30-year-old household worker from General Santos City, was earlier charged with murder for allegedly killing her employer. Dalquez, however, said she accidentally killed her employer in self-defense. She said her employer attempted to rape her at knifepoint on December 7, 2014. (READ: TIMELINE: Jennifer Dalquez’s journey to death row and acquittal)

For this, she was imprisoned in December 2014 and sentenced to death in May 2015.

Dalquez had been an OFW in the UAE since December 2011, and had at least 4 employers. Her first employer there had also attempted to rape her in March 2012. 

In its statement at 11:40 am Tuesday, the DFA said: “Ms Dalquez was declared innocent without diyyah or payment of blood money. Nonetheless, she was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, less the number of days she spent in jail, for stealing a mobile phone.”

Mother hails acquittal

Dalquez’s mother Rajima, also known as Alicia, confirmed the development in a phone interview with Rappler around 9:50 am on Tuesday. 

“Nabunutan ako ng tinik sa dibdib (It’s like a thorn was removed from my chest),” the OFW’s 53-year-old mother said.

Mrs Dalquez added she is hopeful that her daughter can be freed earlier, if she behaves in prison. “Puwede naman siya mabigyan ng pardon (She can be given pardon),” she said.

Learning from her family’s experience, Mrs Dalquez then urged relatives of other OFWs on death row not to lose hope. 

“Dasal lang nang dasal, at saka humingi ng tulong sa gobyerno natin. Tutulungan naman sila eh (They should continue to pray and ask help from our government. They will be assisted),” she said.

“Habang may buhay, may pag-asa (While there is life, there is hope),” she added.

Migrante International, a non-governmental organization for OFWs, on Tuesday also hailed the acquittal of Dalquez. “We stand resolute to continue the fight to save all Filipinos on death row,” Migrante said. 

Dalquez’s lawyer moved for her acquittal on April 26 after the sons of her victim skipped hearings they were instructed by the Al Ain Judicial Court to attend.

UAE’s Court of Appeals had wanted the two sons to swear 50 times, in the name of Allah, that “Jennifer is the only person, and no other person, [who] killed their father.” Had they done so, the court would have upheld the death sentence on Dalquez. – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.