Philippine authorities held an American woman in custody after airport staff found a baby inside her hand luggage and allegedly tried to fly the child out of the country.
"We assume that she was holding the child when she came to the airport so that the child wouldn't be detected by the x-ray screeners," said Grifton Medina, chief of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division. "However, she hid the child when she went to the airline's counter, and while undergoing the Immigration procedure."
Immigration and airline officials noticed that the woman—identified as Jennifer Talbot—was fidgety, Medina added, noting that the airport has CCTV cameras and how immigration officers were observing passengers up to the boarding gate. The division chief said that Talbot was already near the boarding gate when she pulled the child out of her bag.
|Ninoy Aquino International Aiport Manila, Philippines / Photo by: Cristina Arayata via Phil. News Agency|
The woman failed to present the child's necessary documents when airline staff asked her and only showed an affidavit that Medina said was "also doubtful because it wasn't signed by the child's mother, and considering the child is a Filipino."
According to the Philippine News Agency, the government's official media outlet, the affidavit stated that the child will be subject to vaccination and will visit someone in the US. Talbot and the child are now both under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
|A baby / Photo by: Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons|
"She will face several charges, such as child trafficking," Medina said. "The NBI will also be the one to find the identity of the child and his parents."
Meanwhile, BI deputy spokesperson Melvin Mabulac told reporters that the bureau will investigate if Talbot is involved in human trafficking.
"The NBI shall determine if this is a case of human trafficking. On the part of the BI, there is a protocol and we have a referral system. If there is a child involved, we refer to the inter-agency council task force, law enforcement, NBI, PNP (Philippine National Police), and DSWD (Department of Social and Welfare Development)," the BI official said.
|The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation / Photo by: Manila Bloggers Network via Wikimedia Commons|