President Rodrigo Duterte says he threatened to pull out Filipino workers from the United Arab Emirates and he is ready to impose a total deployment ban in that country if it executes a Filipino worker who has been sentenced to death.
“If you hang her, I really tell you, I will immediately order the suspension of employment [in the UAE],” Duterte said during the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday night.
He was referring to the case of Jennifer Dalquez who was sentenced to death for killing her abusive employer in 2014. She claims she did it in self-defense as her employer had tried to rape her at knife point.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III supported Duterte and told the Cabinet members that he flew with Overseas Workers Welfare Administration head Hans Leo Cacdac to Abu Dhabi to relay the President’s directive to UAE officials.
“We went to Abu Dhabi, Mr. President, and relayed the same instruction that you gave me. I said, ‘The President respects your justice system, but the President feels that if you hang his countryman, then he will just [have] to declare a total deployment ban for the entire United Arab Emirates’,” Bello said.
“Two months after [that], we learned that her sentence of death was commuted to only three years. She has not even served three years [in prison], but they freed her... Obviously, they got scared by your remark, sir,” Bello told the President.
After the incident, Bello said, UAE officials invited Duterte to visit the Arabian Peninsula.
Duterte then said if it weren’t for his crude language as a President, nothing would happen in the country.
“What I’m trying to say is, if you don’t say p****** i**, nothing will happen in this country. That’s the truth. Walang mangyari talaga sa bayan na ito
. If you cannot say f*** you, g******* you better behave,” he said.
Before the Cabinet meeting, Dalquez had an emotional encounter with the President for saving her life from death row.
In a Twitter post, Cacdac posted a photo of the President and Dalquez in the Palace.
The President is a shoulder to cry on for returned OFW Jennifer Dalquez, who was saved from death row in Al Ain Prison, UAE. DOLE Secretary Bello and OWWA joined the Dalquez family in the tearful and joyous meeting in Malacañang,” Cacdac said.
He said the President provided cash assistance to Dalquez’s family and issued directives for the government to give livelihood opportunities to the embattled overseas worker.
Dalquez, a native of General Santos City, was arrested on Dec. 12, 2014.
On May 20, 2015, she was sentenced to death by the Al Ain Court of First Instance for murder.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Philippine Embassy in the UAE, then fought for her acquittal through legal assistance.
Dalquez returned to the country on Nov. 2 as she received other assistance provided by the OWWA, DOLE and the Department of Social Welfare to her family.