Concerned with the rise of teenage pregnancy in ages 10 to 14, a House panel on Thursday, Feb. 2, began initial deliberations on a proposed measure that would create a comprehensive policy to educate against and prevent adolescent pregnancy.
The House Committee on Youth and Sports Development began its discussions on the six measures that aim to address the prevalence of teenage pregnancy in the country.
While noting that the number of teenagers aged 15 to 19 began to decline from 2017 to 2022, committee chair Isabela 5th district Rep. Faustino Michael Carlos Dy III expressed concern on the number of pregnancies among the younger age group.
“Talagang (Really) disturbing po ‘yung (the) numbers lalo na ‘yung mga nasa baba tumaas. Yung (especially those in the lower age bracket becomes higher. The) younger,” the lawmaker said.
Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) Undersecretary Lisa Grace Bersales presented during the deliberations that there was a decrease in the adolescent birth rate and proportion of women aged 15 to 19 that began child bearing during the pandemic.
However, the statistics on the “the much younger teenage girls” have become concerning.
“The statistics from the Civil Registry of Statistics system of the Philippines Statistics Authority that in 2020, there were 2,113 births from this age group, 10-14,” Bersales reported.
“From the field health service information system of the DOH (Department of Health), the births for this age group were 2,534, down to 2,299 in 2021. So, the statistics varied depending on the source of data, but they are all worrying,” she added. “I may emphasize 10 to 14 is something that we need to look into.”
A report in Sept. 2020 by PopCom revealed that about 40 to 50 Filipino children aged 10 to 14 years old give birth every week. That is equal to at least 2,080 births in a year.
The proposed measures deliberated upon by the House panel wished to emphasize the role of educating the youth in preventing adolescent pregnancy from rising.
The discussion touched upon these measures: HBs 79, 2062, and 5559 – Providing for a national policy preventing adolescent pregnancies, institutionalizing social protection for adolescent/teenage parents, and providing funds therefor (Reps. Edcel Lagman, Juan Fidel Felipe Nograles, and Patrick Michael Vargas); HBs 2524 and 3211 – Creating a comprehensive policy enabling youth participation in adolescent pregnancy prevention (Reps. Charisse Anne Hernandez and Stephen James Tan), and HB 6964 by Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel.
Among the agenda included in the committee hearing was House Resolution 288 – Inquiry into the rising number of adolescent pregnancy and human immunodeficiency virus among the youth for the purpose of strengthening the existing comprehensive sexuality education of the Department of Education (DepEd) and integrating effective preventive measures in the basic education system (Rep. Rex Gatchalian).
Dr. Diego Danila, health specialist from DOH specializing in OB-Gyne, said that the downward trend on teenage pregnancy needs to be validated first since it was generated during the pandemic lockdown.
“We would like to compare this data now that we are opening up. We want to maintain this kind of data because it means our teenagers are getting the behavior we want them to be but we still we want to validate this and really compare it to pre-pandemic (data) . . . to really know if the strategies are working or is it the lockdown that contributed much to the downward trend,” he said.
Danila lamented that the “lack of education” among those who find themselves pregnant at an early age “may be” one of the reasons for the increase in pregnancy in those aged 10 to 14.