The Makabayan party-list bloc in the House of Representatives has sought a congressional investigation on the rising incidence of teenage pregnancies.
In House Resolution 1571, the bloc members -- Reps. Arlene Brosas of Gabriela; Carlos Isagani Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat of Bayan Muna, and France Castro of ACT Teachers – voiced concern over the Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) latest report or 2020 data on the rising pregnancies among minors aged 10-14.
“In 2019, some 2,411 girls considered as very young adolescents aged 10 to 14 gave birth, or almost seven every day. This was a three-fold increase from 2000 when only 755 from the said age group gave birth,” the commission said.
“Overall, the number of Filipino minors who gave birth in 2019 increased to 62,510, which was slightly higher than the 62,341 minors in 2018.”
In the Senate, Senator Win Gatchalian called for a more aggressive government response to prevent young girls from being pregnant and falling in the trap of “intergenerational poverty.”
Gatchalian also warned that the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to further increase the number of adolescent pregnancies.
He cited experiences from past calamities and disasters.
The Makabayan Bloc said in the resolution that teenage pregnancy was a major health issue, especially for the marginalized sector who have little to no access to family planning methods, health services and other relevant information about reproductive health.
“Minors who are pregnant or who are caring for their newborn babies face worse circumstances amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as reproductive health services and basic social services are inaccessible due to pandemic limitations and age-specific restrictions on mobility,” the resolution reads.
In seeking a congressional probe, the group calls for a review of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to assess “hardships in implementing an age and development-appropriate sexuality education and other important government programs” provided under the law.
Quoting the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP), Gatchalian said 23.5 percent of teenage girls in Eastern Visayas got pregnant when Typhoon Yolanda struck.
He believes that curbing the surge of adolescent pregnancies requires reproductive health education with a grassroots approach, which will mobilize schools and barangays in reaching out to girls and their parents.
Keeping girls in schools, Gatchalian said, is the best strategy to prevent teenage pregnancy, where they can access information and sexuality education.
The senator also emphasized the role of parents as health educators in shaping young people’s attitude and behavior. Parents need to be capacitated in terms of effectively talking to their children about sexuality and reproductive health issues.
Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 calls for an age-appropriate and development-appropriate reproductive health education, which aims to build knowledge and skills on protecting one’s self from teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, gender-based violence, and responsible teenage behavior, among others.
The lawmaker recently filed Senate Bill No. 1985, which seeks to institutionalize and establish the Parent Effectiveness Service Program in every city and municipality. The program aims to assist parents and parent substitutes in building their skills and knowledge to provide quality care during the critical stages of children’s development.