The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on Thursday, June 10, creating the Social Protection Program for Teenaged Mothers and Their Children (SPPTMC).
SPPTMC is mandated under the special provision of the 2021 General Appropriations Act.
“This signifies the partnership between our agencies to promote the wellbeing of the country’s youth, especially in addressing teenage pregnancy which has become a national emergency,” DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said during the virtual ceremonial signing of SPPTMC partnership agreement.
“The state recognizes the youth for nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social wellbeing,” Bautista added.
A combined study by the University of the Philippines and the United Nations Population Fund found a 42-percent increase in unintended pregnancies and a 67-percent hike in unmet family panning needs among Filipino women.
According to a Popcom data, at least 40 to 50 children aged 10 to 14 give birth every week.
“The partnership between the DSWD and Popcom on the implementation of this social protection program for teenage mothers and their children is indeed crucial. We hope that through this partnership, we can mutually prevent teenage pregnancies and establish sufficient and accessible measures to prevent the wellbeing of teenage mothers and their children,” Bautista said.
Popcom Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III said the teen pregnancy situation in the Philippines is already a “national social emergency” and an “urgent national priority.”
“We can say that it has already taken the magnitude of a calamity or a disaster, but while a pregnancy can last months, early motherhood has filed far wider social and economic effects of the family led by a minor with one or more children,” Perez said.
“These far-reaching dilemma could only be addressed on [by] equally-abled entities that know their public well. That’s why Popcom is very much pleased in being able to join forces with the DSWD for the SPPTMC which will alleviate the condition of families who fell in the trap of teenage pregnancy,” he added.
Perez said about 160,000 minors are “projected to be heads of families” this 2021 and through the program, DSWD and Popcom target to “significantly reduce” the number by half in the coming years.
SPPTMC also targets to eliminate repeat pregnancy among minors, according to Perez.
“We hope to make early child-bearing and early motherhood things of the past,” he added.