Two arrests at Manila airport over plan to sell baby for 30,000 pesos

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baby
The sale fell through when the buyer noticed that the baby had a cleft palate.

Two women — one a registered nurse — have been arrested at Manila airport for an alleged attempt to sell a baby for 30,000 pesos.

In a statement issued today (Wednesday, September 12) the National Bureau of Investigation said its agents arrested Catherine Lagustan, a nurse, and April Rose Ramirez, at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Monday.

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The police said Lagustan and Ramirez first contacted each other through the Facebook page Babies Home.ph. This is alleged to be engaged in the illegal activity of selling babies.

The police statement said that Lagustan wanted to buy a baby to prove that her boyfriend had got her pregnant.

Upon closing the deal, Ramirez agreed to fly from Cagayan de Oro and deliver the baby to Lagustan at the airport at 10pm on Sunday in exchange for the cash.

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Baby rejected for cleft palate

However, Lagustan backed out of the deal when she saw the three-month old being sold by Ramirez had a cleft palate.

Although she refused to take the baby, Lagustan said she was still willing to pay 30,000 pesos and an additional 3,500 pesos to the mother.

Lagustan also gave Ramirez 26,000 pesos to pay for a return flight.

Lagustan was asked to look after the infant while Ramirez went to book her flight. After the latter failed to return, Lagustan decided to seek the help of airport police. 

Meanwhile, Ramirez returned to their rendevous point to discover that Lagustan and the baby were missing. So she too went to the airport police. 

This prompted suspicions that a child trafficking act had been taking place, so the airport police referred the matter to the NBI.

Ramirez and Lagustan have been charged before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office with child trafficking in violation of Republic Act 7610, the Anti-Child Abuse Law.

Also named as a co-respondent is the child’s mother identified as Shiela Marie Mandawe, who hails from Cagayan de Oro. 

The offence is non-bailable and carries a potential prison term of up to 40 years.

The baby is now in the care of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

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