After staring death in the face for upholding her dignity, overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jennifer Dalquez arrived home yesterday and credited President Rodrigo Duterte for her release from prison after landing on death row in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Upon her arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Dalquez was all praises to the President and the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi for saving her from the death penalty.
Dalquez was convicted for murdering her employer but through the intercession of the Duterte administration, she was acquitted but she still needed to spend time in jail for alleged theft. She completed her term last 25 October.
“I thank President Rodrigo Duterte and all those who helped. I was not forsaken by our government and the embassy,” Dalquez said.
Dalquez came home yesterday after four years in incarceration at Al Ain Central Jail in Abu Dhabi.
“I thank President Duterte for helping me get home alive. Thank you very much sir, I salute you. To our embassy, you did all you can to help me,” Dalquez added.
Back with parents
Dalquez, 29, was welcomed by her parents upon her arrival at NAIA.
Arriving with Dalquez aboard a Philippine Airlines flight were 86 undocumented OFW who availed themselves of the amnesty program offered by UAE.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola welcomed Dalquez’s release and repatriation.
“Jennifer’s acquittal underscores just how serious the Duterte administration is in promoting the rights and protecting the welfare of our people abroad,” she said.
Arriola added the DFA exhausted all legal remedies to spare Dalquez from capital punishment imposed on her in 2017 in connection with the 2014 stabbing of her employer who allegedly attempted to rape her.
She said the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs provided Dalquez with a lawyer since her case was heard by the Court of First Instance in March 2015. She said Embassy representatives were also present during her court hearings and visited her several times while in jail.
The Embassy, through its lawyers, immediately appealed the conviction and had it overturned by a local court in 2017.
Arriola said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also provided Dalquez with financial assistance to cover her personal expenses while in detention and shouldered the cost of the two visits to Abu Dhabi of her parents. It was also the DFA that paid for her flight home.
Dalquez has been receiving assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) since 2017.
Dalquez was released from jail on 1 November. She was reportedly taken straight from the Al Ain Central Jail to the airport.
Mother’s unremitting joy
Accompanied by officials of the DFA and the DoLE, Dalquez arrived at the NAIA Terminal 1 at about 8:15 a.m. She was welcomed by her mother and father Alicia and Abdul Hamid.
“We waited for years for this and now she is here. Thank you so much to all who supported and prayed for her,” Alicia told the media.
The freed OFW and her parents will soon go back to their hometown in General Santos.
At a briefing shortly after Dalquez’s plane landed in NAIA, Arriola said P100,000 in cash will be given to the OFW’s family under the DFA’s Assistance to Nationals Fund.
The official added that her release “is a victory not only for Jennifer but also for the Philippines.”
Arriola said Dalquez’s acquittal underscores how serious the Duterte Administration is in promoting the rights and protecting the welfare of Filipinos abroad.
“We thank the government of UAE for giving justice to Jennifer Dalquez. We have been following her case since 2015 and we are very thankful that she was eventually acquitted and now she is back in the Philippines,” she said.
“The DFA with the DoLE and OWWA will coordinate to assist Jennifer to have a fresh start in the country,” she added.
OWWA Deputy Administrator for Operations Brigido Dulay said Dalquez will receive livelihood and educational assistance from the government.
with Anthony Ching