Foreigner tries to smuggle out infant son in backpack
MANILA, Philippines—A homebound overstaying foreigner attempted to smuggle out of the country her two-month-old son inside her backpack late Monday night at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
Airport officials said it was the first time they encountered such a “strange” case.
Jenifer Pavolaurea, 25, a Papua New Guinea national and a nursing graduate, was intercepted by Naia terminal 1 security personnel when the image of the sleeping baby was detected after the backpack went through the airport’s x-ray machine.
Assistant general manager for security and emergency Vicente Guerzon said that Pavolaurea was a departing passenger of Air New Guinea PX011 flight bound for Port Moresby.
Guerzon said that initially, the foreigner was held and questioned by immigration officers for overstaying by more than six months. She was reportedly only allowed to stay until July 25, 2014, in the country, 59 days after she arrived on May 27 last year.
Pavolaurea was subsequently cleared for travel after she paid the fine and the final boarding call for her flight was given.
The airport security official said it was during the final screening check, a strict requirement before boarding an aircraft, that the baby whom she named Charles Benjamin was discovered inside her backpack.
“The security x-ray technicians were surprised to see the image of a sleeping baby inside Pavolaurea’s bag,” he said, adding the foreigner was immediately barred from boarding her flight to Port Moresby.
Pavolaurea, Guerzon said, was able to pass through the initial checkpoint because she was carrying the baby who was born on January 2.
“She apparently only placed the baby inside her backpack before going through the immigration check-in counter,” he explained.
“It is certainly not a common occurrence. It is the strangest thing to find a baby inside a passenger’s bag,” Guerzon told the Inquirer.
Asked what could have possibly driven the foreigner to stuff her baby in her backpack, the airport official said that Pavolaurea had several days ago tried to leave the country with her son but was prevented from doing so because her baby had no Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC) although he had a plane ticket.
“I cannot blame her for wanting to take her son home without the proper documents,” Guerzon said, pointing out that desperation could have motivated Pavolaurea.
But, he said, she had put her child in danger for doing that. Fortunately a medical checkup on the baby by the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) doctor showed that he was fine and was not affected by the radiation from the x-ray machine.
“She should proceed to the Papua New Guinea embassy and ask for support to get an ECC for her son so she does not have to put him inside her bag again,” Guerzon said.
Pavolaurea and her baby were turned over to the custody of a certain John Frederick Camarines, who brought them to Naia, after immigration officers extended her stay to give her enough time to process her son’s documents.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.