US woman charged with trying to smuggle baby out of Philippines

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 was arrested at Manila’s airport on Wednesday and charged with human trafficking, kidnapping, and child abuse. Talbot was able to pass through the airport immigration counter without declaring the baby boy but was intercepted at the boarding gate by airline personnel. The 43-year-old was unable to produce any passport, boarding pass or government permits for the baby, airport officials said. Allegedly, she planned to board a Delta flight to Ohio.

The letter said the child was to receive American medical vaccines and a checkup and would be taken to “meet his great-grandmother before she passes”. Allegedly written by the biological mother of the child, Maricris Dulap, it sets out the return date as 8 October 2019 but was not signed. The baby has been turned over to government welfare personnel, where he will remain until a court order has been reached. Similar cases could last two to three years until a final judgment, Toledo said. He said the woman had an application for a passport for the child with her but had not 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 had previously entered the Philippines last year, with entry stamps showing she arrived on 6 August and 2 July 2018, Toledo said. Most recently, she arrived in the Philippines on 6 August and again on 19 August this year. The child was born on 29 August. Describing Talbot as a “frequent traveler”, Toledo said she also held a long-term visa for China and had been to many different countries. Officials said no government travel approval had been issued for the baby, prompting them to file human-trafficking charges against Talbot. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Talbot also allegedly violated at least two other laws on child abuse, kidnapping, and illegal detention, the NBI said.

The parents of the baby, who are at an unknown location, have also been charged with neglect of a child. Toledo said the US embassy, who had been informed of the issue, had not yet been in touch with NBI officials. The embassy could not be reached for comment. Another NBI official, who declined to be named as they were not permitted to speak to the press, said the anti-human-trafficking division had “never encountered any similar case”. Manuel Dimaano of the NBI said Dulap gave her baby to Talbot in Davao City.

He said investigators would try to determine how Talbot brought the baby out of Davao, where a city clearance is required for infants to be transported by a foreigner. The baby’s parents have been charged under a child protection law but have not been placed under arrest, although the mother has been interviewed by social welfare officers, according to Dimaano. He said Dulap told the officers she wanted to offer her baby for adoption, and that there was no indication she had sold the baby.

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