Fix gaps in sexuality education for teen pregnancy prevention, gov't urged

Published July 4, 2021, 11:49 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday, July 4 called on the government to address existing loopholes in delivering comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) to properly implement policies geared towards teenage pregnancy prevention.

Gatchalian said the passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 or Republic Act 10354 is supposed to deliver age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate reproductive health education but it has failed to counter the rise of pregnancies among adolescents.

The senator said the law aims to capacitate minors on protecting one’s self from teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse, gender-based violence and responsible teenage behavior, among others.

But despite the passage of the law, teenage pregnancies in the country continued to rise according to a study by the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM).

“Giving sufficient and appropriate education is one of the most important measures we can provide to make sure our youth won’t be deprived of a bright and better future,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

Last June 25, President Duterte issued Executive Order 141 declaring the prevention of teenage pregnancies as a “national priority” and called on government agencies to mobilize existing mechanisms related to the prevention of adolescent pregnancies.

Gatchalian had repeatedly raised alarm that the lockdown measures imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a teenage pregnancy boom.

POPCOM validated the senator’s concerns in a recent study, reporting that in 2020, there were 2,422 babies born in the Cordilleras—an increase of 46.43 percent—from the 1,654 born in 2019.

The Commission also noted that in 2019, the number of Filipino minors who gave birth in 2019 increased to 62,510 from 62,341 in 2018. It also reported that in 2019, 2,411 girls aged 10 to 14 gave birth, a three-fold increase from the 755 recorded in 2000.