Citing statistics that show that teenage pregnancies in the Philippines remain disturbingly high, Laguna 3rd District Rep. Sol Aragones has filed a bill that would require the adoption of a national program that would curb teenage pregnancies in the country.
Aragones filed HB 4742, or the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2017, that seeks to “institute programs that would address the country’s alarmingly high teenage pregnancy rate.”
The solon, who chairs the House Committee on Population and Family Relations, cited the findings of a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) study that revealed that teenage pregnancies in the Philippines continued to rise despite a worldwide decline in pregnancies of women between the ages of 15 and 19.
“Ten per cent of our country’s population is composed of girls aged 15 to 19; of these 10 million girls, one in ten get pregnant––that’s one million teenagers who must deal with the difficult realities of raising a child,” lamented Aragones, whose bill would require the development of a National Program on the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy (NPPTP).
The bill, if passed, would direct the The National Youth Commission (NYC), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Commission on Population (POPCOM) in collaboration with other relevant national agencies and civil society organizations to develop an NPPTP “that shall serve as the national framework for inter-agency and inter-sectoral collaboration at all levels to address the various health, cultural, socio-economic and institutional determinants of teenage pregnancy.”
The bill also provides for the organization of Regional and Local Information and Service Delivery Network (ISDN) for Adolescent Health and Development (AHD) in all of the country’s provinces and chartered cities.
These ISDN would consist of different government and non-government organizations, institutions, and facilities catering information and services to adolescents within their localities, and would be tasked to, among others, (1) assess the various factors contributing to pregnancies among adolescents at the regional and local levels; (2) identify, harmonize, coordinate, and implement inter-agency interventions to address the various issues related to teenage pregnancies; (3) provide, in collaboration with concerned LGUs, needed information and services for adolescent development; and (4) monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of coordinative and referral systems and other interagency interventions jointly implemented by the ISDN.
The bill also mandates the development and implementation of age and development-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) from Grade 5 onwards, “and shall include age-appropriate topics such as, but not limited to, human sexuality, adolescent reproductive health, health and nutrition, gender-sensitivity, gender equality and equity, and life-skills the purpose of which is to enable adolescents to be responsible in nurturing their sexuality, prevent of sexual abuse, and avoid unintended pregnancy.”
The bill likewise provides for the training of teachers, guidance counselors, and school supervisors on CSE. Section 7 directs the DepEd, Technological Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to ensure that “all teachers, guidance counselors, instructors, and other school officials entrusted with the duty to educate adolescents on CSE shall be properly trained on adolescent health and development to effectively educate or guide adolescents in dealing with their sexuality-related concerns.”
The training shall involve the DOH, POPCOM, and NYC for technical assistance. Funding for the training shall be allotted in the concerned government agencies’ annual allocation to be approved by Congress.
According to Aragones, the absence of programs to curb teenage pregnancy and provide CSE exposes Filipino youth to problems such as early and unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV.
“This will not just impact young people, but our country overall, as teenage pregnancies has a negative effect on education participation, unemployment, and poverty rates.”