An American woman was charged with human trafficking after authorities in the Philippines accused her of trying to smuggle a baby out of the country.
Officials with the country’s National Bureau of Investigation presented Jennifer Talbot, 43, at a news conference Thursday, a day after she was detained at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila with a 6-day-old baby she allegedly tried to conceal in her sling bag.
The baby’s alleged mother and father also have been charged under a child protection law, but authorities have not been able to reach them directly, according to the Associated Press.
NBI officials said that Talbot tried to conceal the infant in her bag as she made her way through the airport.
“The child’s situation must have been very difficult during the time that he was put inside that bag,” NBI spokesperson Auralyn Pascual said.
The newborn was discovered with Talbot about 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, Bureau of Immigration spokesman Melvin Mabulac told The Washington Post.
Talbot was stopped at the gate by airline personnel Wednesday morning before boarding her Delta Air Lines flight to the United States, at which point she had removed the baby from her bag, officials said. She could not produce any documentation for the infant. In the Philippines, adults traveling internationally with a child who is not theirs must obtain clearance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and provide travel documents and written permission from the minor’s parent or guardian.
“She just wanted to give the baby a name and a church blessing,” Manuel Dimaano, head of the NBI International Airport Investigation Division, told reporters of Talbot’s alleged motives.
“The case against her will proceed here until such time that it is completed,” he said.
CNN Philippines reported that the NBI had not been able to contact the infant’s parents, but the Department of Social Welfare and Development had made contact with a woman named Maricris, who said she met Talbot online to discuss a possible adoption. Authorities said that Talbot flew to the Philippines ahead of the baby’s birth and took the child from the city of Davao to Manila, where she was apprehended.
Talbot had a notarized affidavit declaring that she intended to adopt the baby, but it lacked Maricris’s signature, CNN Philippines reported.
Talbot did not comment to reporters pending legal representation, according to CNN Philippines. The baby is in the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.