By Roy Mabasa
Freed overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jennifer Dalquez was finally reunited with her family yesterday after spending almost four years in prison in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for killing her employer who tried to sexually assault her in 2015.
Dalquez arrived in Manila on board a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight from Abu Dhabi, together with 86 undocumented Filipinos who availed themselves of the 90-day amnesty program of the UAE. She was met by her family members and representatives from various government agencies.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, sa lahat-lahat po ng tulong. Di po ako pinabayaan ng gobyerno at ng embahada. Kay nanay, tatay, nagpapasalamat po ako sa mga dasal nyo. Hanggang ngayon pinagdadasal nyo ko (I am thankful to President Duterte for all his help. I was not forsaken by the government and the embassy. To my mother and father, thank you for your prayers. Up to now, you pray for me),” Dalquez told journalists at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 1 shortly after her arrival early Friday morning.
The 29-year-old mother of two from General Santos City flew to the UAE in December 2011 to work as a household worker.
But on Dec. 7, 2014, she accidentally killed her Emirati employer who tried to rape her at knifepoint.
“Napatay ko po ang aking among pulis dahil tinangka niya po akong gahasain at patayin. Sinunog po niya ako. Pinalo, sinuntok, at sinara niya po ang pintuan palabas at doon niya po ako pinalo ng bote sa mukha sa bandang taas ng mata (I accidentally killed my police-employer because he tried to rape and kill me. He burned me. He hit, punched and closed the door and that’s when he hit me with a bottle in the face, just above my eye),” Dalquez said in an audio recording she previously sent to pro-OFW group Migrante.
On May 20, 2015, the Al Ain Court of First Instance handed down the death penalty sentence to Dalquez.
In the summer of 2017, after spending more than two years in jail, a UAE appeals court acquitted her of the killing following the failure of the victim’s two sons to appear before the judge on two occasions to testify in favor of their father.
Dalquez’ prolonged stay in prison was a result of a separate conviction on a theft case that ended on Oct. 25, 2018.
Meanwhile, Bishop Ruperto Santos asked for prayers for other overseas Filipino workers who are still in jail.
The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People issued the call as Dalquez returned to the Philippines.
“Let us together work and pray for the release of those OFWs who are in jails and do all the means for the repatriation of those with undocumented status,” he said in an interview. For the Balanga prelate, the release of Dalquez is a “triumph of justice.”
“The released and coming home of Jennifer is comforting and consoling news to all us,” said Santos. “It is a triumph of justice, of collective prayers and of rule of law. A life is spared. Human person, Jennifer Dalquez is saved.” (With reports from Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Ariel Fernandez)