Security personnel watching the X-ray machines at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 1 in Pasay City were surprised when they spotted a baby-shaped figure inside a backpack on Monday night.
Authorities promptly accosted the owner, 25-year-old Papua New Guinean Jenifer Pavolaurea, and held her for trying to smuggle her 2-month-old sleeping son out of the country in her bag.
According to airport officials, it was the first time they encountered such a "strange case."
Fortunately, a medical checkup conducted by a Manila International Airport Authority doctor on Charles Benjamin showed that the baby was unaffected by the radiation from the X-ray machine.
Assistant general manager for security and emergency Vicente Guerzon said that Pavolaurea was about to leave the country on Air New Guinea PX011 flight bound for Port Moresby.
She was initially questioned by immigration officers for overstaying but subsequently cleared for travel after paying a fine. However, during a final screening check-a strict requirement before boarding an aircraft-the baby was discovered inside her backpack.
"She apparently placed the baby inside her backpack before going through the immigration check-in counter," Guerzon said.
He added that Pavolaurea had tried to leave the country several days ago with her son but was prevented from doing so because the baby had no Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) although he had a plane ticket.
"She should go to the Papua New Guinea Embassy and ask for an ECC for her son," Guerzon said.
Immigration officers also extended Pavolaurea's stay to give her enough time to process her son's documents before releasing her into her friend's custody.