MANILA – Authorities intercepted an American woman who tried to slip a six-day-old baby out of the country at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 on Wednesday.
In an interview, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Port Operations Division chief Grifton Medina said Jennifer Talbot, 43, placed the child in her hand-carry luggage and was already near the boarding gate when she was apprehended by authorities.
“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. However, she hid the child when she went to the airline’s counter, and while undergoing the Immigration procedure,” he said.
However, Medina said immigration and airline officials noticed the woman’s fidgety actions.
He noted that the airport has CCTV cameras, and that immigration officers observe passengers up to the boarding gate.
In case there is a suspicious passenger, the officers even follow him or her inside the aircraft, Medina said.
“When she was already near the boarding gate, she put the child out of her bag. The airline staff questioned if the child has necessary documents,” Medina added.
The child has no travel documents, no birth certificate, and no certification from the Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD).
“When she presented was an affidavit, which is also doubtful because it wasn’t signed by the child’s mother, and considering the child is a Filipino,” Medina said.
Apparently, the affidavit stated that the child will undergo vaccination and would visit someone in the United States.
The passenger and the child are now under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“She will face several charges, such as child trafficking. The NBI will also be the one to find the identity of the child and his parents,” Medina said.
In a separate interview, BI deputy spokesperson Melvin Mabulac said they will determine whether 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) at DSWD,” he said in an interview.
“The infant was hidden in the oversized belt bag and did not declare nor present to the Immigration inspector during departure formalities,” the BI official added.
Mabulac said the function of the BI is to check the travel documents of passengers and that checking of bags or luggage is not under their jurisdiction.
He added that the BI is mandated to protect the rights of the women and children.
Among the requirements for a Filipino minor or those below 18 years of age, to be allowed to travel alone or accompanied by a person other than his/her parents, is to secure travel clearance from the DSWD. PNA – northboundasia.com