Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday renewed her push for the passage of the bill that seeks to curb teen pregnancy in the Philippines, saying the rise in the number of cases in the country has remained a “frightening epidemic.”
“Ang patuloy na pagtaas ng bilang ng mga maagang nabubuntis ay dagdag pang pagsubok sa kalusugan at kapakanan ng pamilyang Pilipino sa gitna ng pandemya at (The rising number of pregnant teenagers in the country is another challenge to our ongoing health crisis and the Filipino family already experiencing difficulties amid a pandemic and) economic crisis,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“This remains a frightening epidemic in the middle of a pandemic,” the senator further said.
Hontiveros, who filed Senate Bill No. 161, urged Congress to expedite passage of the bill amid disturbing reports that teenage pregnancies in the country rose by as much as seven percent in 2019 alone.
She said the government’s efforts to prevent teen pregnancy should not take a backseat, especially at a time of a COVID-19 crisis.
“That the teen pregnancy crisis has continued for a decade and continues to spike today goes to show that the prevention of teen pregnancy cannot take a backseat, even as we battle COVID-19,” the senator said.
“It must be in the front row of the policies we need to discuss immediately to recover from the pandemic and to stem the worsening poverty,” she added.
Citing data from the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), the lawmaker noted the pregnancies among 10-14 year olds or very young adolescents (VYAs) have been on the rise since 2011. This has also increased by as much as 63 percent, with VYAs delivering 504 babies per day, she noted.
Alarmingly, she said 130,000 babies from women younger than 20 years old were fathered by men who are 20 years of age or older.
“How many of these young children were sexually abused? Sa ngayon, malabo pa ang datos. Importante na magkaroon tayo ng batas na magpoproteka ng mga kababaihan natin, lalo ang mga anak natin (For now, the data is still uncertain. But it’s important to pass a law that will protect our women, especially our children) who have no choice now but to take on the burden of motherhood,” she said.
Hontiveros said she is willing to compromise on amendments as long as the bill, which is currently in the period of interpellation, moves forward.
“We need to pass this measure so we can put crucial programs in place as soon as we can…There will be consequences for the future of our nation if we do not seriously solve this epidemic of teen pregnancy,” the lawmaker reiterated.