A Philippine woman has acknowledged giving birth to a baby on a flight and then abandoning him in a rubbish bag on board the plane, a lawmaker said today.
The baby was found by a security guard at Manila's airport last Sunday in a rubbish bag unloaded from a Gulf Air flight from Bahrain. The rubbish apparently came from the plane's bathroom.
The six-pound, nine-ounce baby - still attached to the placenta - was found wrapped in tissue paper. Airport officials said the baby, already bluish in colour, may have died within a few minutes had he not been found.
The baby, temporarily named George Francis after Gulf Air's flight code GF, is now fine but underwent an X-ray because of two bumps on his head, welfare officer Thelsa Biolena said. The results have not yet been released.
Representative Lani Mercado said the woman explained to her why she had abandoned the baby. She said the story was heart-wrenching and urged the public not to judge the woman harshly.
"She admitted it's her child," Ms Mercado told reporters after meeting briefly with the woman at Manila's National Bureau of Investigation headquarters. "Let's all pray that there will be a happy ending to this story."
Ms Mercado, who serves on legislative committees on children and women, refused to provide other details of the meeting, saying government investigators had asked her not to divulge information about the woman.
It was not clear why she was allowed to meet with the woman, but lawmakers often get involved in high-profile cases.
The 30-year-old woman was located on Wednesday in the remote northern province of Apayao after investigators set out to find the person who sat in a bloodstained seat on the plane.
Authorities brought her to Manila for questioning and testing. They did not release her name.
Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, who has custody of the baby, cautioned that it is still not certain whether the woman is the mother.
She earlier said authorities plan to conduct DNA tests on the woman and the baby and that it would take at least a month to establish whether she is the parent.
"We want to be very sure that we won't ascribe this act to the wrong person," Ms Soliman said.
The mother could face criminal charges for abandoning her child, Ms Soliman said.
About 20 couples, including some from abroad, have offered to adopt the boy, she said.
Local media have speculated that the mother could be one of the many Filipino women who work as maids in the Middle East.
About one in 10 Filipinos works abroad, many as domestic workers and labourers in the Middle East, to escape crushing poverty and unemployment at home.