Senator Bong Go has expressed his concern over cases of teenage pregnancies in the country, especially among minors aged 10 to 14, calling on the government to conduct tougher initiatives to address the problem by guiding parents, their children and their communities as a whole to look after the youth.
In an ambush interview after assisting fire victims in Quezon City, Go called on all concerned agencies to take the necessary steps to combat various forms of abuse victimizing minors, noting that the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) has documented instances of female minors between the ages of 10 and 14 becoming pregnant with males who are “more than 21 years old”.
“More government intervention po. Nakakabahala ‘yan. Kung ang nabubuntis ay edad 10-14 years old as per POPCOM, at ang involved ay 21 pataas, maaaring, may kasong kriminal dito,” the legislator said.
“Walang tigil po dapat ang ating pamahalaan sa pagprotekta sa kapakanan ng mga kabataan lalo na ngayon sa panahon ng pandemya.”
“Walang tigil po dapat ang ating pamahalaan sa pagprotekta sa kapakanan ng mga kabataan lalo na ngayon sa panahon ng pandemya po, ang mga kabataan po ang pag-asa ng ating bayan. Sila ang kinabukasan ng ating bayan. So, the more na dapat natin silang protektahan through more government interventions,” the lawmaker added.
While the rate of teenage pregnancy in the country has decreased in 2022, according to the POPCOM, the rate of pregnancy among women in the 10 to 14 age range remains high.
Based on a survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority, teenage pregnancy rate decreased from 8.5% in 2017 to 5.4% in 2022 among women between the ages of 15 and 19.
On the other hand, the rate decreased to 6.7% in 2022 from approximately 13% since 2017, according to the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey conducted by the University of the Philippines Population Institute.
“2,000 pregnancies in the 10 to 14 age range were recorded nationwide.”
Despite the decline, POPCOM is concerned by the PSA’s findings that 2,000 pregnancies in the 10 to 14 age range were recorded nationwide.
“‘Yung solid evidence natin ay kasalukuyang ginagawa pa pero ‘yung preliminary analysis na nakikita natin… more than 21 years old ang mga tatay na partners… so it indicates that there’s some form of abuse. At hindi lang 21, mayroon pang mga 30 or 40 years old na nakikita sa datos na ‘yun,” said Lolito Tacardon, Deputy Executive Director of the POPCOM.
“So in such a kind of relationship, I think mayroong possibility of sexual abuse but ayon nga kailangan natin talagang masusing pag-aralan para masigurado tayo sa ating intervention,” Tacardon added.
Go said that there may be a violation of the law in these cases, noting that Republic Act No. 11648, which was enacted in March 2022, raised the age of determining statutory rape from 12 to 16.
The senator also shared that he has filed Senate Bill No. 1188 which seeks to amend RA 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act”.
The bill aims to amend Section 5(b) of the Anti-Child Abuse Law by increasing the penalty for persons engaging in lascivious conduct with minors under 12 years of age from reclusion temporal in its medium period (from 14 years, 8 months and 1 day to 17 years and 4 months) to reclusion perpetua (20 years and one day to a maximum of 40 years).
In a separate ambush interview after assisting fire victims in Parañaque City, Go advised parents and school administrators to make sure that young people are focused on their studies in order to avoid incidents of teenage pregnancy.
“May lockdown man po o wala (noon), alam n’yo, responsibilidad po ng magulang na tignan po ang kanilang mga anak kaya nakatutok din po dapat ang mga magulang sa kanilang mga anak. Ako po ay nananawagan sa ating gobyerno na tugunan rin ang problemang ito sa mga komunidad dahil sa tumataas na bilang po ng teenage pregnancies,” he said.
“Kaya nga po edukasyon, importante. Alam n’yo kapag busy ang kabataan sa edukasyon, may ginagawa po silang produktibo tungo sa tamang landas sa buhay. Tayo namang mga magulang, aside from binubuhay natin ang ating mga anak, dapat tutukan natin sila hanggang sa proper age na po,” Go added.
Finally, he asked the government and school authorities to work together in educating the youth and offer counseling in order to ensure minors are aware of their actions towards building a better future for them and their families.
“Sana sa tamang edad ay makapag-asawa po sila at magkaroon po ng maayos na pamumuhay. So ulitin ko, maliban sa magulang, nananawagan din po ako sa gobyerno, sa ating school authorities — counseling, pangaralan po natin ang ating kabataan na mamuhay po ng tama,” Go concluded.