MANILA, Philippines – Authorities in the Philippines on Monday tried to trace the mother who gave birth then abandoned her newborn baby on a flight from the Middle East.
The baby boy, covered in blood and wrapped in tissue paper, was found by an airport security officer in a garbage bag unloaded from the plane that arrived from Bahrain on Sunday. He was brought to an airport clinic, where doctors and nurses examined him and cleaned him, wrapped him in cloth and gave him a bottle of milk, airport officials said.
"When we initially saw the baby, his color was not right. His color should be pinkish," airport doctor Maria Teresa Agores told reporters. But after the baby was cleaned, "he regained his natural color."
He also let off a soft cry, nurse Kate Calvo said.
"He was healthy, his vital signs were OK according to our doctors," she added.
A security officer noticed something moving in a garbage bag that was reportedly unloaded from a Gulf Air plane that arrived from Bahrain and found the baby inside, an airport statement said. The baby, given the name George Francis after Gulf Air's code name GF, was later turned over to social workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Gulf Air officials were not immediately available for comment.
Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman she was angered by what happened, adding that police had been ordered to search for the infant's mother, who could be criminally charged.
"I was simply outraged, no infant should be treated that way," Soliman said.
She said the baby will be turned over to the mother's relatives — if they can be identified and located — or put up for adoption.
About one in 10 Filipino works abroad, many as maids and laborers in the Middle East, to escape crushing poverty and unemployment at home.
Doctors who attended to the baby said he looked Filipino, fueling speculation in local media that the boy's mother could be a domestic worker in the Middle East.
But Manila Airport Manager Jose Angel Honrado said it was too early to make that conclusion since a joint investigation of airport police and Gulf Air had not yet traced the mother.
"Although the plane came from Bahrain, we cannot come up with that conclusion because we don't even know the mother," he told The Associated Press.
He said he was hoping investigators may be able to identify her within a day or so.