Man accused of killing girlfriend in Dubai seeks legal aid from Manila

Consular officials are helping to secure legal aid for a Filipino accused of strangling his girlfriend with her hair.

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DUBAI // Consular officials are helping to secure legal aid for a Filipino accused of strangling his girlfriend with her hair and a belt and dumping her body by a villa. Police arrested EG, 43, on April 15 in connection with the murder of Emma Angos Cambalon, 35, an expatriate worker also from the Philippines. Police said EG confessed to killing Cambalon in March following a heated argument. The case is still being investigated by public prosecutors.

"Since he was accused of murder, we will request Manila to provide him with a lawyer," said Benito Valeriano, the consul-general in Dubai. The consulate will seek the approval of Manila's foreign affairs department to help EG through the Philippines government's legal assistance fund (LAF). The LAF was created under the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, which provided a framework for stronger protection of expatriate Filipino workers.

The fund's priority is paying lawyers who defend overseas Filipinos facing the death penalty. The fund covers expenses for foreign lawyers, bail bonds to secure the temporary release of workers under detention, court fees and charges and other litigation expenses. When Manila approves the request for legal assistance, the consulate has to seek financial quotations from a number of UAE law firms. These are forwarded to Manila for a decision on which company to use.

EG's wife in the Philippines contacted officials at the consulate last month, asking for help in his case. "He will be given full consular assistance," Mr Valeriano said. Consular officials would visit EG in jail "once authorities allow them", he added. Because the suspect and victim were from the Philippines, the government should ensure that their rights and welfare were protected, said Nhel Morona, the secretary general of the UAE branch of Migrante, an organisation created to protect Filipino workers overseas.

Meanwhile, Cambalon's family in Malita, Davao del Sur, in southern Philippines, is still waiting for authorities to send her body home. However, the body will be released only after the investigation is completed, although the family will not be able to pay for it, according to Mr Valeriano. "They don't have money," he said. "We will request funding from the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] to repatriate her remains."