Manila, Philippines — A 30-year-old single mother of two working as a domestic helper in the United Arab Emirates was saved from death row, government officials said Tuesday.
Jennifer Dalquez was acquitted by the Court of Appeals in Al Ain on June 19 of murdering her employer who attempted to rape her, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
“Through her counsel, she argued that she was defending herself from his attempt to rape her when the incident occurred on 7 December 2014. Ms. Dalquez was declared innocent without diyyah or payment of blood money,” the DFA said in a statement.
However, she was convicted for stealing a cellphone and sentenced to five years in prison.
Dalquez has been languishing in jail for more than two years since she was arrested for stabbing her employer, a policeman, in the lungs. He was trying to rape her and then attacked her with a knife.
She recalled the ordeal in the audio recording posted by Migrante.
“Napatay ko po ang aking amo na pulis. Tinangka niya po akong gahasain at patayin. Sinunog po niya ako… Pinalo, sinuntok… Doon niya po ako pinalo ng bote sa mukha… Tinangka niya po akong saksakin. Nakaiwas po ako at awa ng Diyos naagaw ko ang kutsilyo sa kanya… Sigaw ako nang sigaw, humihingi ako ng tulong, ngunit wala pong nakarinig sa akin. Ilang beses kaming nag-agawan ng kutsilyo, kahit anong iwas ko palayo sa kaniya, hinahabol niya pa din ako para patayin,” Dalquez said.
[Translation: I accidentally killed my employer, a police. He tried to rape and kill me. He burned me, hit me. He hit me with a bottle in the face. He attempted to stab me. By God’s grace, I was able to dodge and get the knife from him. I was screaming for help, but no one heard me. We scrambled for the knife. He was running after me to kill me.]
She added, “Nitong huli, doon ko na po siya nasaksak… Hindi ko po sinasadya iyon… Alang-alang sa buhay ko na makalabas nang buhay sa bahay niya, dinepensahan ko lang po ang sarili ko.”
[Translation: That was when I stabbed him. It was an accident. I defended myself to escape alive.]
She was arrested and charged for murder on December 12, 2014. UAE’s Court of First Instance of Al Ain sentenced Dalquez to death on May 20, 2015, but she appealed her case.
Dalquez, a mother of children ages 5 and 8, flew to UAE in December 2011 to work as a domestic helper in Abu Dhabi. On top of her job in the home of the policeman, she also worked as a doctor’s assistant and cashier in a restaurant.
She wanted to save more because she was planning to return to the Philippines for good in early 2015, which was why she also worked part time as a cleaner in different households.
Call for help
Dalquez, who comes from General Santos City, has appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to help her come back home.
“Nagmamakaawa po ako sa mahal nating pangulo na tulungan niya po ako na makauwi na sa bansa natin,” she said in an audio recording from February 12, 2017,
[Translation: I appeal to our beloved President to help me get home to our country.]
Duterte in April promised to bring back troubled OFWs during his state visits to Middle East countries, but the Palace said Duterte could not yet ask the King of Saudi Arabia for clemency.
Almost five months after Dalquez was sentenced to death, her family went to the UAE with the help of the government. She told her parents to take good care of her two children.
In February, the parents of Dalquez, along with members of Migrante and the mother of another death row inmate Mary Jane Veloso, held a candle lighting vigil at the University of the Philippines Diliman to appeal to the government to help OFWs in death row.