(UPDATED – 10:10 P.M.) MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino overseas worker has been acquitted of murder charges and, thus, spared the death penalty in the United Arab Emirates.
Jennifer Dalquez’s acquittal by the UAE’s Court of Appeals was announced Tuesday by the advocacy group Migrante International, who said the news was confirmed by her parents as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“We have talked to Jennifer’s parents and they confirmed that they were contacted by the Department of Foreign Affairs who relayed to them the good news. We also thank the DFA for having graciously imparted directly to us the positive update,” Migrante spokesman Arman Hernando said.
In May 2015, Dalquez was found guilty of murder by the Court of First Instance for killing her employer, a policeman. She claimed self-defense, saying he had tried to rape her at knifepoint.
But while the acquittal also means the OFW will not have to pay blood money, she is still expected to serve a five-year sentence.
“On behalf of the Dalquez family, we thank all supporters, migrants advocates and human rights defenders in the ‘Save Jennifer Dalquez’ campaign. We stand resolute to continue with the fight to save all Filipinos on death row,” Hernando said.
The Blas F. Ople Policy Center, a non-government organization that advocates labor migration issues, described the acquittal as a “major victory for human rights.
Dalquez had always insisted on her innocence and her unwavering testimony led the UAE court to rule in her favor, the Ople Center said.
Susan Ople, head of the policy center, noted that Filipinos departing for the Middle East should be made more aware of their human rights.
“The universal principles of human rights should be included in all pre-departure and pre-employment seminars. This will help strengthen the resolve of distressed workers to stand up for their rights when the situation calls for it,” Ople said.
“Jennifer Dalquez never gave in and her resolve to fight for her rights should serve as an inspiration to so many other OFWs,” she added.
The Ople Center also commended the DFA, DoLE, the Philippine Embassy in UAE and Migrante International for assistance rendered to Jennifer and her family throughout her ordeal.
“We also need to review the manner by which foreign employers are being selected and approved by our labor attaches and the private recruitment agencies. There has to be a way for more quality checks on foreign employers especially of Filipino domestic workers.”
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