Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Friday vowed to block the confirmation of Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell Ubial with the powerful Commission on Appointments if she pushes through with the Department of Health’s planned distribution of condoms to students next year.
“I assure you, the Secretary will not pass the CA if they do that,” said Sotto, who was reacting to the DoH’s plan to distribute condoms to students aged 15 to 24 owing to the alarming increase in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome among the youth.
He considered the DoH’s condom plan a “wrong approach” and said the agency should instead go on an information campaign focused on moral values.
Records show that from 1984 until October 2016, 38,114 cases of HIV or AIDS occurred in the country, of which a total of 9,066 youth aged 15 to 24 were HIV-positive.
Sotto, who is a member of the CA, also insisted students should not be taught the use of condoms. Instead, “they should be taught about the value of education and encouraged to focus on their studies to become successful in life.”
“We should instill in their young minds to study well to face a brighter future,” said the senator, who has opposed the condom distribution plan even during the last Congress.
He also raised concerns that students might be enticed to have sex at an early age, as they would have no fear of pregnancy by using condoms.
Sotto has strongly objected to the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, which also provides for the distribution of condoms.
Ubial has said the DOH could start handing out condoms to students as soon as it consults with the Department of Education.
DepEd has indicated it may allow the DoH to proceed with its plan to distribute condoms next year, but only “with great sensitivity” to junior and senior high schoolers.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said top-level discussions have started on how the two agencies could roll out the plan.
“This is a very sensitive issue, and the DoH recognized the need for the DepEd to cooperate because the object of their protective project is our learners,” Briones said.
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