An American woman has been charged with human trafficking for allegedly attempting to smuggle an undocumented six-day-old baby out of the Philippines hidden in a bag.
Jennifer Erin Talbot, who was detained at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on Wednesday for trying to take an undocumented six-day-old baby out of the Philippines, has been charged with human trafficking, kidnapping and child abuse.
The 43-year-old American citizen managed to make it past the airport immigration counter with the baby hidden in a carry-on bag but was ultimately stopped at the boarding gate by airline personnel. When questioned, she had no passport, boarding pass or government permits for the child, airport officials said.
Talbot, who was reportedly planning to board a Delta flight to Ohio, had an unsigned affidavit that stated that the trip to the US would be temporary and “not exceed 6 weeks.” It also claims the child’s name is “Andrew” and says the baby was traveling to Ohio “to receive a ‘name and a blessing’ and attain membership within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
An American woman has been charged with human trafficking after Phillipine airline officials found a six-day-old baby in her baghttps://t.co/CXkjZl3IC2— SBS News (@SBSNews) September 5, 2019
“She’s from a Mormon church and they’re trying to get the baby to be baptized and get church recognition for protection,” said Marlon Toledo, the supervising agent for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The affidavit also stated that the baby was to be vaccinated and receive a medical checkup in the US, and would be taken to “meet his great-grandmother before she passes.” The letter was purportedly written by the child’s biological mother, Maricris Dulap, and indicated the return date as October 8, 2019.
According to Toledo, the baby has been taken into custody by welfare personnel and will remain supervised until a court makes a decision, which could be in two to three years. He added that the woman had a passport application for the child but that it had not been processed it. “[She says] the reason for her story is, she said that her grandmother was dying, she is in the hospital, she has to go back to the United States,” he said.
Talbot, who has a long-term visa for China and has visited several different countries, entered the Philippines last year on July 2 and August 6, Toledo said. She returned this summer on August 6 and again on August 19. The child was presumably born on August 29.
Given that no government travel approval had been issued for the child, Talbot has been charged with human trafficking. If convicted, she could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. She has also been charged with child abuse, kidnapping and illegal detention, the NBI said. Meanwhile, the baby’s parents, who are at an undisclosed location, have been charged with neglect but have not been arrested. The mother told officials that she wanted to put her child up for adoption, though it is unclear if she intended to sell the baby.
Toledo said the US embassy had been informed, but they have yet to contact NBI officials. An unidentified NBI official added the anti-human-trafficking division had “never encountered any similar case.” Manuel Dimaano of the NBI said Dulap handed her baby over to Talbot in Davao City. Investigators are examining how Talbot took the baby out of Davao since a city clearance is needed for foreigners to transport infants.