An American woman accused of trying to smuggle a six-day-old baby onto a flight in a carry-on bag faces life imprisonment in the Philippines, local authorities said Thursday.
Jennifer Talbot, 42, wept while being paraded in front of the cameras alongside investigators. Philippine authorities said Talbot, who was handcuffed and wearing an orange T-shirt, does not have a lawyer.
The defendant, who spoke only to confirm that she was from Ohio, is accused of violating anti-trafficking and kidnapping laws, as well as legislation protecting children against abuse and exploitation, the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
U.S. Embassy officials were notified of Talbot's arrest and told Philippine authorities that she has no criminal record in the U.S., NBI officials said, according to the Associated Press.
Talbot faces life imprisonment in a Philippine jail and a fine of some $38,500 to $96,200, Manuel Dimaano, airport division chief for the bureau said in a press conference Thursday.
The U.S. citizen was arrested early Wednesday as she attempted to board a Delta Air Lines flight from Manila while concealing a six-day old baby boy in a carry-on bag, the bureau said in the statement.
Talbot, who says she has five children, managed to get through immigration concealing the infant but was stopped before boarding the aircraft, the bureau said in the statement. She was unable to present valid travel documents for the baby boy, it added.
The bureau said Talbot had presented an affidavit, allegedly from the baby's mother, giving consent for the baby to travel to the U.S., but it had not been signed by the mother. Talbot said she was from Ohio but in court documents the bureau of investigation listed an address in Utah.
Dimaano demonstrated in the press conference Thursday how Talbot attempted to transport the baby in a sling bag under her arm instead of visibly across her chest.
“There was really intention to conceal and sneak out the baby,” Dimaano told reporters.
"Based on the CCTV footage obtained, Talbot was carrying the baby inside the sling bag as if she was just carrying an ordinary shoulder bag, and unmindful of the inconvenient condition and difficult situation of the baby," the bureau said in its post-operation report.
The baby’s biological mother was listed as Maricris Dulap, 19. 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, Dimaano said.
Dimaano said that Talbot had claimed Dulap was a friend of her brother's ex-girlfriend and that she stayed at Dulap's house from the day the baby was born until she flew with the infant from Davao in the south to Manila. By contrast, Dulap said the pair met online.