MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine woman who acknowledged giving birth to a baby on a flight from the Middle East and then leaving him in the trash on the plane said she was raped by her employer, a lawmaker said Thursday.
The baby was found by a security guard at Manila’s airport last Sunday in a trash bag unloaded from a Gulf Air flight from Bahrain. The trash apparently came from the plane’s bathroom.
Rep. Lani Mercado said she met Thursday with the woman, who told her that she had been raped by her employer while working as a maid in Qatar and became pregnant. She said her employer’s wife then forced her to return home, and she managed to hide her pregnancy and board a flight.
"She had labor pains in the plane," Mercado told The Associated Press. "Then she gave birth."
Mercado said the woman told her she abandoned the baby because she was afraid of what her family would say.
Mercado, who serves on legislative committees on children and women, said she met with the woman at Manila’s National Bureau of Investigation headquarters to try to help her.
The woman gave birth while the plane was approaching Manila, according to the bureau’s chief, Magtanggol Gatdula. The woman has been shown a picture of the child, and "she’s very eager to see her baby," he said.
The woman left in June last year to work in Qatar for three years, and her family was surprised when she suddenly returned home, said police Inspector Jeffrey Vicente, quoting her husband in northern Apayao province with whom she has two children.
The six-pound, nine-ounce (three-kilogram) baby — still attached to the placenta — was found wrapped in tissue paper. Airport officials said the baby, already bluish in color, 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.
The 30-year-old woman was located Wednesday in 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 authorities are still working to confirm that the woman is the mother.
She earlier said authorities plan to conduct DNA tests 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," Soliman told The Associated Press.
Bahrain-based Gulf Air said in an e-mailed statement Thursday that it provided Filipino investigators access to the plane earlier in the day, so that they could take samples from blood specks for the DNA tests. The airline said it is providing the child with baby food, medicine, diapers and vitamins.
The mother could face criminal charges for abandoning her child, Soliman said.
About 20 couples, including some from abroad, have offered to adopt the boy, she said.
About one in 10 Filipinos works abroad, many as domestic workers and laborers in the Middle East, to escape crushing poverty and unemployment at home.
Associated Press writers Oliver Teves and Teresa Cerojano in Manila and Adam Schreck in Muscat, Oman, contributed to this report.