MANILA -- Two Filipino maids arrived home Friday after they were pardoned by the king of Saudi Arabia for the killing of the employer of one of the women, the foreign ministry said.

Idan Tejano and her friend Marjanna Sakilan were charged with homicide and robbery for stabbing to death Tejano's pregnant employer in 2001, and fleeing with her jewelry. They were sentenced to death by hanging by the Jeddah General Shariah Court in 2004.

The sentences were later lowered to 12 years jail and 1,200 lashes, but they were eventually pardoned after appeals by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to King Abdullah.

The victim's husband said in court in April 2008 that the family did not object to their release.

The two were freed on Thursday after serving eight years and seven months in jail and were immediately whisked to the airport for a flight to Manila. They met Friday with top officials including Arroyo.

"I could not believe that I can come home alive," a tearful Tejano said.

Some 10 million Filipinos — or nearly 10 percent of the population of 90 million — work overseas, sending home billions of dollars that fuel domestic spending which the backbone of the Philippine economy. (AP)