August 16, 1979
|Occupation||Overseas Filipino Worker|
|Known for||Her trial in the United Arab Emirates|
|Criminal charge||Premeditated murder|
|Criminal penalty|| Death penalty, by firing squad (initial sentence)|
1 year of imprisonment and 100 lashes
|Criminal status||Released (1996)|
Sarah Balabagan-Sereno(born August 16, 1979) is a Filipina who was imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates from 1994–1996 for murder. She was initially sentenced to death, but was later returned to the Philippines. Her story was made into a film in 1997.
The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates, is a country in Western Asia at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south and west, as well as sharing maritime borders with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north. The sovereign constitutional monarchy is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. Their boundaries are complex, with numerous enclaves within the various emirates. Each emirate is governed by a ruler; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the rulers serves as the President of the United Arab Emirates. In 2013, the UAE's population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates.
The Philippines, officially the Republic of the Philippines, is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila. Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Japan to the northeast, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east, and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.
Balabagan grew up in a poor Muslim family in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao in the Philippines. She had 13 brothers and sisters but only six survived. Her siblings died due to disease and because of her family's financial constraints, which prevented them from availing adequate medical care. She worked for relatives at a young age to support her studies. She only managed to reach the fifth grade.She has implied that she was abused by an uncle as a child.
Sultan Kudarat, officially the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat, is a 1st class municipality in the province of Maguindanao, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 95,201 people.
Maguindanao is a province in the Philippines located in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Since 2014 the provincial capital is Buluan but the legislative branch of the provincial government, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, convenes in the old provincial capitol in the town of Sultan Kudarat. It borders Lanao del Sur to the north, Cotabato to the east, Sultan Kudarat to the south, and the Illana Bay to the west.
At age 14, Balabagan decided to work abroad. Her recruiter listed her age as 28 and managed to secure a job for her. She learnt of this falsification only when she was already on her flight to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. She was tasked by contract to work for a 67 year old widower with four sons. Balabagan was anxious of the employment and convinced herself that her employers would respect her since she and they were Muslims.
Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai.
This was later proven to be false, as Balabagan became a subject of unsolicited sexual advancements.
On July 19, 1994, Balabagan killed her employer, Almas Mohammed al-Baloushi, stabbing him 34 times. She alleged that he had tried to rape her, and that she was acting in self-defence.
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.
On June 26, 1995, a court ruled that she was guilty of manslaughter as well as a victim of rape. She was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and ordered to pay 150,000 dirhams (US$40,000) in blood money to al-Baloushi's relatives, while at the same time awarded 100,000 dirhams (US$27,000) as compensation for the rape.However, the prosecution appealed the verdict, calling for the death penalty. On September 6, 1995, a second Islamic court found no evidence of rape and convicted her of premeditated murder, sentencing her to death by firing squad. There was an international outcry and a defense campaign in several countries, as her case was seen as symbolising the ill-treatment of domestic servants in Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and just a few months earlier there had been the rather similar case of Flor Contemplación, a Filipina domestic worker who was hanged in Singapore that March.
Manslaughter is a common law legal term for homicide considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco in the 7th century BC.
The United Arab Emirates dirham, also known as simply the Emirati dirham, is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. The term dirham is officially abbreviated "AED", while unofficial abbreviations include "DH" or "Dhs.". The dirham is subdivided into 100 fils (فلس).
The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.
Reportedly, it was only after a personal appeal for mercy by President of the United Arab Emirates Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan that al-Baloushi's family agreed to drop their execution demand in exchange for blood money.On October 30, at her third trial, her sentence was reduced to a year's imprisonment and 100 strokes of the cane, along with payment of blood money, which was donated by a Filipino businessman. She was caned in 20 strokes at a time over five days spanning January 30 – February 5, 1996. Philippine Ambassador Roy Señeres said "Balabagan said it was bearable. Embassy officials visited her twice afterward, and there were no marks or bruises or reddening." However, she later said that her injuries were more serious than she said at the time. She returned to the Philippines on August 1, 1996, to a hero's welcome.
Shortly after her release, Balabagan embarked on a career as a singer, appearing on a television programme with Geri Halliwell.[ citation needed ] In 1998, she became a single parent after a brief relationship. In August 2003, she announced her engagement to Russell Vergara. She went on to have two more children.[ citation needed ] She later converted from Islam to Christianity after being introduced to a pastor by a Christian singer, Dulce Amor. She and Vergara divorced in 2010.
In 2013 she married June Sereno, and they have a child.As of 2018, she lives in Las Vegas with her husband and five children.
Balabagan's story was dramatised in the 1997 Philippine film The Sarah Balabagan Story. Directed by Joel Lamangan the Tagalog-language film starred Vina Morales in the title role which was initially offered to Balabagan herself but had declined. The government of the Philippines made several attempts to prevent the film from being shown lest it damage bilateral relations with the United Arab Emirates, and its release was delayed for several months.
Flor Ramos Contemplacion was a Filipina domestic worker executed in Singapore for murder. Her execution severely strained relations between Singapore and the Philippines, and caused many Filipinos to vent their frustrations over the plight of Overseas Filipino Workers towards both states' governments.
Islam is the official religion of the United Arab Emirates. More than 80% of the population of the United Arab Emirates are non-citizens. Virtually all Emirati citizens are Muslims; approximately 85% are Sunni and 15% are Shi'a. There are smaller number of Ismaili Shias and Ahmadi. Foreigners are predominantly from South and Southeast Asia, although there are substantial numbers from the Middle East, Europe, Central Asia, Commonwealth of Independent States, and North America. The Al Nahayan and Al Maktoum ruling families adhere to the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence from the Uyunid dynasty, whom spread of the Maliki school came by the command of Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Uyuni.
The Sarah Balabagan Story is a 1997 Philippine Biopic film directed by Joel Lamangan that revolves around the case of Overseas Filipino Worker, Sarah Balabagan who was sentenced to death in the United Arab Emirates.
According to human rights organizations, the government of the UAE violates a number of fundamental human rights. The UAE does not have democratically elected institutions and citizens do not have the right to change their government or to form political parties. There are reports of forced disappearances in the UAE, many foreign nationals and Emirati citizens have been abducted by the UAE government and illegally detained and tortured in undisclosed locations. In numerous instances, the UAE government has tortured people in custody . and has denied their citizens the right to a speedy trial and access to counsel during official investigations.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights are heavily suppressed in the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah and Sharjah, which together form the United Arab Emirates. All sexual relations outside a heterosexual marriage is a crime. Punishments range from jail time, floggings, beatings, death, torture, fines, vigilante execution, and deportation. Adultery and fornication are also crimes punished with death, and a person convicted of homosexuality may also face charges of adultery if they have an opposite-sex spouse while having sexual relations with a person of the same sex.
Joel Lamangan is a Filipino film director, television director and actor. His award-winning films includes The Flor Contemplacion Story, Sidhi, Deathrow, Hubog, Aishte Imasu 1941, Blue Moon and Mano Po.
Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates are migrants or descendants of the Philippines living in the United Arab Emirates. 679,819 Filipinos live in the UAE, of which 450,000 live in Dubai, and they form 21.3% of the population of Dubai. Dubai is home to the largest population of Filipinos in the UAE, followed by Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. In 2007, Filipinos in the UAE sent more than US$500 million in remittances back to the Philippines.
Islam is both the official and majority religion in the United Arab Emirates followed by approximately 76% of the population. The Al Nahayan and Al Maktoum ruling families adhere to Sunni Islam of Maliki school of jurisprudence. Many followers of the Hanbali school of Sunni Islam are found in Sharjah, Umm al-Quwain, Ras al-Khaimah and Ajman. Their followers include the Al Qasimi ruling family. Other religions represented in the country including Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Sikhism are practiced by non-nationals.
The Philippine Labor Migration Policy of the Philippine government allows and encourages emigration. The Department of Foreign Affairs, which is one of the government's arms of emigration, grants Filipinos passports that allow entry to foreign countries. The Philippine government enacted the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 in order to "institute the policies of overseas employment and establish a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers and their families and overseas Filipinos in distress."
The Flor Contemplacion Story is a 1995 film produced by Viva Films about the story of the Filipina domestic helper who was hanged in Singapore for allegedly killing her fellow maid. The story was chronicled in a film which operates on various personal, social and political levels. Both controversial and critically acclaimed, it has brought Nora Aunor numerous citations for her intense portrayal as the fallen heroine of the story.
Capital punishment is a legal penalty in the United Arab Emirates.
The Philippines–United Arab Emirates relations refers to the bilateral relations of the Republic of the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates.
Fidel is a 2009 Filipino indie film, directed by Mark Shandii Bacolod and produced and written by Charlotte Dianco.
The judicial system in the United Arab Emirates is based on the British law, civil law system with influences from Islamic, French, Roman and Egyptian laws.
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso is a Filipino woman who was arrested and sentenced to death for smuggling heroin into Indonesia. Her case, among others, sparked international attention towards Indonesia's capital punishment and drug prohibition laws.
Roy Villareal Señeres was a Filipino statesman and diplomat who initially ran in the 2016 Philippine presidential election under the Partido ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka party before withdrawing on February 5, 2016, three days before his death. Señeres was elected as a member of the Philippine House of Representatives representing the OFW Family Club party-list in the 2013 general elections. He is the father of former congressman Christian Señeres.
Susan "Toots" Ople is a Filipino politician and advocate of Overseas Filipino Workers' (OFW) rights.
Biyaheng Langit is a current affairs program which airs the many Overseas Filipino Workers from the Philippines. Biyaheng Langit is aired every Saturday at 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm PST over RJDigiTV and is produced by Heavenly Images Productions for Television, Inc.
Tuti Tursilawati was an Indonesian housekeeper who was executed on October 29, 2018 in Saudi Arabia. In 2011 she was convicted for the murder of her employer Suud Malhaq Al Utaibi, who she had been serving since 2009 and who would have sexually abused her. According to her, on May 11, 2010 in self-defense she had killed him when he wanted to rape her. After this deed she fled the city and was raped by nine men who promised to bring her to Mecca. A week later, she was arrested in Ta'if.