More minors are getting pregnant in the Philippines, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) executive director Juan Antonio Perez III said on Friday, September 18, pointing to data that said at least 40 to 50 children aged 10 to 14, give birth every week.
Perez corrected the statement he gave in a Senate finance hearing on Thursday saying that at least “40 to 50 children aged 10 to 14 are giving birth every year” to point out the increasing number of Filipino teenagers who have gotten pregnant.
The figures he cited were based on a 2018 report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
“Actually, ang bilang, medyo i-correct ko lang ang balita, mga 40 to 50 every week ang nanganganak na 10 to 14 years old (about the figures, I would just like to correct that about 40 to 50 10 to 14-year-olds give birth every week),” Perez said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
During the Senate finance committee hearing, he had told senators: “Roughly 40 to 50 10-year-old children are giving birth every year.”
Citing PSA data, he said 2,250 children aged 10-14 years old gave birth in 2018, doubling from the 1,000 recorded in 2007. Meanwhile, he said an average of 64,000 minors give birth every year.
“Overall, ang teen pregnancy sa Pilipinas, 500 ang nanganganak kada araw (around 500 teenagers give birth every day in the Philippines).”
According to the report released by the PSA late last year, of the 1.668 million live births registered in 2018, a total of 2,314 babies were born to teenage mothers and fathers aged below 15. Meanwhile, a total of 234,161 babies were born to adolescents aged between 15 to 19.
“Nag-aalala kami na ito’y nangyayari sa panahon ng iniimplement pa naman natin ‘yong RPRH Law (We are concerned that this is happening while we are already implementing the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law),” Perez said.
Asked about what possibly went wrong in the implementation of the law, Perez cited the Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling which restricted minors who have been pregnant or had a miscarriage from accessing family planning and reproductive health services without their parents’ consent. This was one of the provisions struck down by the high court while declaring the RH Law constitutional.
“May palagay kami na dahil tumaas ‘yong bilang nitong last six years na nagbabantay kami ay epekto rin ito ng pagkaalis ng access, ng karapatang gumamit ng family planning ng kabataang may anak na o buntis na (We think that numbers increased over the last six years that we were monitoring as an effect of the removal of access, of the right to family planning of youths who already have children or have gotten pregnant),” he said.
During Thursday’s Senate hearing, Perez also mentioned the delay in the Department of Education’s implementation of the comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in schools, years after the enactment of the RH Law.
“DepEd, however, was only able to come up with the guidelines for CSE in 2018. And its only going to be, probably, next month, October, when DepEd will start implementing CSE in schools,” he told senators.
Perez said they have also been working with the Department of Health and the Department of Social Welfare and Development in crafting a “road map” to address the problem of adolescent pregnancies.
He then appealed for the passage of the bill that would expand the implementation of CSE outside schools.
“At the core of that is implementing CSE. We hope that the new bill, if it comes out, will be able to also address CSE also outside the school and link this education to services,” he said.
“We hope that the Senate thru this bill will be able to address this current issue and help the executive expand the reach of the prevention of adolescent pregnancy beyond what is allowed by the RPRH Law,” he added.
Perez said the POPCOM has yet to conduct another comprehensive study on the trend and economic effects of teenage pregnancies. He said his assessments were based on latest reports by the PSA as well as studies by the United Nations and academic institutions. The POPCOM last conducted its Young Adult Fertility Survey in 2013.
The Senate has been deliberating in plenary the Senate Bill No. 1334, or the proposed “Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act.” Its provision on CSE, however, was opposed by Catholic schools and universities.
The POPCOM also supported proposals to raise the age of consent in determining statutory rape, from the current 12 years old, to 16.