The woman, 42-year-old Jennifer Talbot, had no valid custody documents for the child but managed to make it through security and immigration before personnel at the departure gate confronted her at Manila’s international airport on Wednesday.
National Bureau of Investigation officials said she was “carrying an infant baby boy inside a sling bag” as she attempted to depart for a connecting flight on her journey back to the United States.
Prosecutors charged Talbot on Thursday with human trafficking, which if convicted, could send her to prison for decades, officials told reporters at a press conference as Talbot stood by in orange jail clothes.
Investigators believe the baby, who is now in the custody child welfare services, was born to a Filipino mother in the nation’s south and then flown to Manila.
The exact circumstances of how Talbot came to have the baby are still under investigation, but authorities believe they have located the birth mother. Prosecutors have not filed any kidnapping charges.
A spokesman of the National Bureau of Investigation, which handles high-profile cases in the Philippines, addressed a news conference in Manila. He revealed that Talbot police charged her on Thursday with violating the country’s anti-trafficking law.
“The child’s situation must have been very difficult during the time that he was put inside that bag.
Pascual added that airport security became suspicious when Talbot appeared “a little fidgety”.
Authorities said they will also charge the baby’s mother, who is from southern Philippine city of Davao.
The authorities were unclear why Talbot had been able to board a domestic flight from Davao to Manila with the baby without having proper documents.
Immigration officials told reporters that the baby is safe and under the care of the government’s social welfare office.