Gatchalian to ask Senate to probe upsurge of teenage pregnancy

Published November 3, 2019, 12:54 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Hannah Torregoza

Senate basic education, arts and culture committee chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday vowed that he will file a resolution asking the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the spike of teenage pregnancies nationwide with the end view of reversing this trend.

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian

Gatchalian said this following the Commission on Population and Development’s (PopCom) plea for the declaration of a national emergency on teenage pregnancy.

The senator said he will specifically seek a Senate inquiry on how to strengthen the comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and curb teenage pregnancies in the Philippines.

Gatchalian lamented that despite the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) Law in 2012, nine percent of 4.9 million teenage women aged 15-19 have begun childbearing.

This is based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). PopCom also reported that between 2011 and 2017, pregnancies in the 10-14 age group increased by 50 percent from around 1,000 to 2,000 cases, 30 to 50 of which are among 10-year olds.

“Despite the existence of CSE and the RH Law, teenage pregnancy rates in the country are still alarming,” Gatchalian noted.

“This prompts us to revisit and strengthen our existing policies so we can save teenagers from getting pregnant and falling into the trap of intergenerational poverty,” the senator further said.

The lawmaker, likewise, pointed to the finding by PSA’s 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey, which revealed that “marriage or family matters” is the top reason why female out-of-school children and youth (OSCY) aged 6-24 are not attending school.

“Napagkakaitan ang mga kabataan ng maayos na kalusugan at magandang kinabukasan kung hindi natin sila magagabayan sa usapin ng RH (we will deprive our young children with good health and better future if we do not act now and guide them in the area of reproductive health),” Gatchalian warned.

” Kung may mabisang programa at sapat na kakayahan ang mga paaralan para magturo ng CSE, maiiwasan natin ang pagdami ng mga batang tumitigil sa pag-aaral dahil sa maagang pagbubuntis, (If our schools have a better program and sufficient capability to teach CSE, we will be able to prevent the number of children who drop out of school due to early pregnancy,” he said.

The NDHS 2017 pointed out that teenage mothers face greater difficulty in pursuing educational opportunities, which also lowers their chance to get decent jobs.

The study added that adverse pregnancy outcomes are more likely to occur among teenage mothers, while their children are at greater risk of sickness and even death.

According to Gatchalian he will soon file a resolution to conduct an inquiry with the aim of crafting relevant legislation to reverse the spike of teenage pregnancies nationwide.

“We need urgency in institutionalizing measures and ensuring their proper implementation to address this situation,” he said.

“Protecting girls from teenage pregnancy empowers them to be independent and economically productive members of the society,” Gatchalian reiterated.