A baby who was sold by her mother because of e-sabong debts has been rescued by authorities from a Nigerian male and his partner.
"Na recover na po namin yung bata. Nasa poder siya ng isang magnobyo, isang Nigerian at isang Pilipina," Atty Janet Francisco, chief of the National Bureau of Investigation Human Trafficking Division, said in a TeleRadyo interview.
Francisco said the Filipina denied buying the baby and claimed the child was given to her by a nurse. Investigation showed the Nigerian is also an overstaying foreigner.
The 2 will face child trafficking and other charges. "They are in possession of the child so they will be sued," the NBI official said.
The NBI is also investigating if the Nigerian is part of a larger syndicate involved in child trafficking. "Baka may iba pang bata na naibenta na," she said.
The case of baby "Miracle" went viral after the 22-year-old mother appealed to the "buyers" of her daughter to return her child. She said she sold her own child for P45,000 (approximately US$856) to pay her gambling debts, after being addicted to online sabong.
In the interview, Francisco said the successful rescue of baby Miracle was carried out with the help of a local transport company, a fastfood chain, and the national and local governments.
"Marami kaming ginawa, Kabayan, we cannot disclose because this is a strategy of the law enforcers," she said, before thanking barangay Baesa and the local government of Pasig, Jollibee, 9-star Transport, local banks, and other government agencies.
She noted information given by a taxi driver was particularly helpful in tracing the whereabouts of the child. "Malaki ang tulong nung impormasyon na binigay sa amin. Yung mga bangko din po," she said.
For his part, the baby's father, Anthony, said the "buyer" contacted him and made overtures that she was willing to return the baby.
"Yung kumuha po sa anak ko, nakipag-ugnayan, nakipag-dulungan sa amin na maibalik na po yung anak ko," he said in a separate TeleRadyo interview.
He said the buyer informed him that she was in Calamba, Laguna. Authorities then found out the buyer's house and trailed her vehicle until she was arrested in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
"Bumaba po yung babae po bibili po ng prutas. Ginawa namin, kinorner na namin. Tapos, nahuli na po, nandoon po yung anak ko...Siya po yung bumili," he said, adding that the baby was being held by the Nigerian.
HOW IT HAPPENED
In an earlier interview with ABS-CBN News, taxi driver "Rex" said he was driving his cab when a woman flagged his vehicle in Quezon City last March 3.
"Dalawang babae. Yung isang babae, medyo mataba, puti yung damit, hawak-hawak niya yung maliit na bata. Bale, dito sa dibdib niya, karga niya. Yung isang babae naman may dala rin na medyo malaki na bata," "Rex" recounted.
Rex said the woman with the larger child boarded his cab and was weeping all through the journey. She then said: "Kuya, balikan ko yung anak ko. Kukunin ko...Anak ko yung karga nung babae."
Rex said he made a u-turn and went back to Quezon City but that the "buyer" could no longer be contacted. "Kuya, na block na ako. Binlock na ako," the mother told Rex.
It was then that the mother revealed she sold her baby because she could no longer afford to take care of her. "Sabi niya hindi na niya kayang pakainin dahil may sakit sa puso yung anak niya, may butas sa puso."
SANA MABUO ANG PAMILYA KO
Baby Miracle is currently under the custody of a social worker. The NBI talked to the child's father about surrendering the child to a social worker for the meantime.
Francisco said it is unlikely that Baby Miracle will be returned to her mother. "Medyo masalimuot kasi ang nanay ang nagbenta ng bata (It's complicated because the mother sold the baby)," she said.
In the interview, the child's mother, Rosemary, denied that she sold her child because of e-sabong debts. "Hindi naman ganoon kalaki ang utang ko. Nasa 10 lang," she said.
Asked why she sold her child, she said: "Wala akong maisip na paraan at sobrang stress na po."
She said the buyer, whom she met online, had initially offered to pay P20,000 for the baby but raised the offer to P45,000.
After receiving the cash, Rosemary said she had a change of heart and texted the buyer that she wanted to return the money only to find that her number was already blocked.
The baby's father, meanwhile, said he wants their family to become whole again, noting that both their children cannot see their mother. "Sana po mabuo na pamilya ko," he said.