The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has arrested two women who were allegedly engaged in the sale of a three-month-old infant.
Alleged baby seller April Rose Ramirez and alleged buyer Catherine Lagustan were apprehended at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport's Terminal 3 on September 10, the NBI said Wednesday.
Ramirez had allegedly flown in from Cagayan de Oro to meet Lagustan "to deliver a baby in exchange for P30,000," but refused to accept the child when she saw that he or she had a cleft palate, the NBI said in a statement.
The two women have been charged with child trafficking, a violation of Republic Act No. 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, before the Pasay City Prosecutor's Office.
The child's biological mother, Shiela Marie Mandawe, was also charged. She is at large.
The NBI's investigation shows that despite Lagustan's refusal to take the baby, she was willing to give the amount to Mandawe and an additional P3,500 to Ramirez, the supposed seller.
The two subjects' transaction was given away by the baby's "incessant crying," which prompted another woman, Rose Antiquina, to volunteer to hold and calm the child, the NBI reported.
Lagustan and Ramirez left the child with Antiquina to proceed to the airline's check-in counter to arrange the alleged seller's return flight. Lagustan handed Ramirez P26,000, then returned to the baby.
Lagustan and Antiquina looked for Ramirez when she took time to return and eventually asked airport police for help. But Ramirez came back and, finding Lagustan and the baby gone, also turned to airport police for assistance.
The three women met at the office of the Airport Police Department and were consequently investigated for possible involvement in child trafficking, the NBI said.
Meanwhile, the child has been turned over to the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. — BM, GMA News