By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara is supporting other lawmakers’ call to probe deeper into the growing number of child and teenage pregnancies in the country.
Angara said it is imperative for the government to do something about this at the soonest possible time as statistics on child and teenage pregnancies in the country should be a cause for alarm.
The senator pointed out that even the rise in teenage pregnancies has made the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) believe it warrants being declared a national emergency.
“When young girls get pregnant, they are forced to quit school. Their lives take an unexpected detour, ambitions are set aside and they effectively lose their childhood. No child should have to go through this,” Angara stressed.
In the 2017 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), it was found that nine percent of teenage women aged 15 to 19 have begun childbearing.
The survey also showed that the highest incidence of teenage pregnancies was recorded in Davao, Northern Mindanao and SOCCSKARGEN.
POPCOM also noted that an average of 530 teenage girls get pregnant daily and in 2017, the figure went as high as 574 per day.
It also reported of a 50 percent increase in pregnancies among the 10 to 14-year-old age group since 2011.
“What is even more alarming is that 30 to 50 percent of these pregnancies involved 10-year-old girls,” Angara said.
“Children this age should be in school and playing with other kids. They cannot possibly be ready to get pregnant and raise their own children,” he pointed out.
The Department of Education (DepEd) earlier disclosed that underage pregnancies have led to an increase in the dropout rate among female students.
Angara said he will file a resolution seeking an inquiry into the rising incidence of child and teenage pregnancies, with the end in view of strengthening Republic Act 10534 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RH Law).
Angara recalled that under the RH Law, authorities are mandated to provide age and development-appropriate reproductive health education, including teenage pregnancy.
The said law also mandates the DepEd to formulate a curriculum for each educational level or group, subject to consultations with parents-teachers-community associations, school officials and other interest groups, to be used by public schools and may be adopted by their private counterparts.
In its 4th Annual RPRH Report, the Department of Health (DOH) noted that the unmet need for family planning was one of the major roadblocks in addressing teenage pregnancies.
The same report also indicated that 35.8 percent of adolescents aged 15 to 19 have access to any family planning method; while only 29.7 percent have access to any modern method of family planning.
“With the Philippines having one of the lowest minimum age of sexual consent and the high prevalence of unmet need for family planning, it is necessary to review our policies in order to prevent child and teenage pregnancies,” the lawmaker said.