De Lima pushes for Senate probe into rise of teen pregnancies in PH
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima on Monday urged for a Senate investigation into the “alarming” rise of teenage pregnancies in the country.
“It becomes crucial and imperative for the State to immediately act on what is now considered as a ‘national social emergency’ in order to provide for holistic solutions to the various challenges faced by our youth, especially those who are most vulnerable and exposed to the many effects caused by unintended pregnancies,” De Lima said in a statement.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 169 directing the appropriate Senate committee to probe the sharp rise in teenage pregnancies in the Philippines.
Her resolution also called for a review of the status of the implementation of the existing law on responsible parenthood and reproductive health.
The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) earlier called on President Rodrigo Duterte to declare adolescent pregnancy as a national emergency amid the alarming growth in the number of pregnancies among teenagers.
PopCom reported that there are about 1.2 million adolescents having children yearly, some of them as young as 10 years old and about 30,000 young mothers have already experienced repeated pregnancies.
De Lima cited the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey which showed that one in every 10 Filipino women aged 15 to 19 is already a mother or pregnant with her first child.
The study also concluded that early pregnancy is more prevalent among poor households, she added.
National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia also earlier said that teenage pregnancy has become a “national social emergency,” citing economic costs and risks.
De Lima noted that NEDA averred that young mothers lose about ₱24 billion to ₱47 billion in earnings annually due to an early pregnancy, which could result in “intergenerational poverty” if not prevented.
“In line with this phenomenon, it must be noted that the Philippines is the only country among its regional neighbors that is experiencing a rapid increase in the number of teenage pregnancies,” the senator pointed out.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, underscored the urgent need to protect and effectively address teenage pregnancies “to help youth attain their full productive capacity and vigorously contribute and participate in the development and growth of the country.”
She said that in addressing the rise in teenage pregnancies, a comprehensive review of Republic Act (RA) 10354 is needed.
The said law, De Lima explained, provides for heightened public awareness “on the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights,” such as family planning and responsible parenthood information and services.
“It is necessary to conduct a comprehensive assessment and review of [this law] to ensure its effective implementation, guarantee the compliance of concerned government agencies and stakeholders and provide accessible and relevant education to the youth,” she said.
The senator added that the youth should have access to age-appropriate sex education which she said could help them have better and informed decision-making capabilities.
“Their lack of awareness and poor access to correct information make them more prone to sexual abuse and deprives them of more opportunities to have a better future because instead of studying they are burdened to find means to support their young families,” she said.
Citing Section 14 of RA 10354, or the “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012,” De Lima said the State is mandated to “provide age- and development- appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents which shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in informal and non-formal educational system.” /je
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.