GENERAL SANTOS CITY/MANILA- Overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Jennifer Dalquez has been saved from death row after a United Arab Emirates (UAE) court acquitted her of the crime of murder, her family and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Tuesday.
Rajima Dalquez, Jennifer's mother, said she received the good news from a DFA official Monday evening, saying Jennifer was acquitted of murder for killing her employer in December 2014.
"Maraming salamat sa lahat, sa lahat ng mga tumulong sa amin. Nilaban ko ito dahil naniniwala akong walang kasalanan ang anak ko," she told ABS-CBN News in an exclusive interview.
(Thank you to everyone, everyone who helped us. I fought for this because I believe that my daughter is innocent.)
The DFA said the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi reported to head office that the Court of Appeals in Al Ain acquitted Dalquez of the crime of murder in a hearing on Monday.
Dalquez was cleaning households on the side while working as an assistant to a doctor in the UAE. In December 2014, an Arab local contacted her to clean their home. The local attempted to rape her at knifepoint. She fought back to defend herself and accidentally killed the aggressor.
She was charged with murder in 2015, but her case was raised to the appeals court.
The court declared Dalquez innocent without diyyah or payment of blood money, but sentenced her to five years imprisonment, minus the number of days she spent in jail for stealing a mobile phone.
Speaking to ANC on Tuesday afternoon, DFA Assistant Secretary Eduardo Malaya said prior to the murder case, records of Dalquez showed no signs of abuse.
"[That] is an aspect that is not apparent from her records," he said.
Malaya also affirmed the DFA's commitment to assuring Dalquez's welfare, saying they have conducted visits and have provided her with financial assistance.
"She will have to spend a little more time in jail but at least her life is definitely spared already so I think this is very, very good news," he added.
Echoing his daughter's defense, Jennifer's father, Abdulhamid, earlier said his daughter is innocent of all charges.
"Walang kasalanan ang anak ko. Self-defense lang ang nangyari, nilaban niya ang kanyang karapatan, ang kanyang pagkababae," he said.
(My daughter is innocent. What happened was self-defense, she fought for her rights, her womanhood.)
Rajima said Jennifer did not know about the court's decision until she talked with her mother last night. Jennifer was also crying when she heard the good news straight from her mom.
"Masayang-masaya siya. Hindi siya makapaniwala. Excited na siyang umuwi para mahatid na niya sa eskwela ang mga anak niya," she said.
(She's very happy. She could not believe it. She's excited to go home so that she would be able to bring her kids to school.)
Rajima said Jennifer is expected to return to General Santos City in 2019 when she completes her sentence.
"Nakulong na siya ng dalawa at kalahating taon kaya sa 2019 makakauwi na siya," she said, adding that she asked her daughter to pray harder so she can come home soon.
(She has been detained for two and a half years, so she will be able to go home by 2019.)
- with reports from Trishia Billones and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News