Stricter regulation of alcohol sale being eyed to address teenage pregnancy 

Senators on Tuesday, February 7 called for stricter regulations on the sale of alcoholic beverages as part of the government's program to address the rise in teenage pregnancy.

Sen. Raffy Tulfo suggested this during the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality's hearing, saying legislating as to who should be given license to sell liquor could help curb the rise of pregnancy among adolescents.

Stores or any establishments who would be caught selling liquor to minors would lose their license to sell liquors automatically.

"Kapag nag-violate ka, nagbenta ka ng liquor sa minor, kakanselahin ‘yung lisensya mo forever. Hindi ka na pwede magtinda ng liquor. Kapag nagpumilit ka, pwede ka makulong (If you violate, and you are caught selling liquor to a minor, your license will be cancelled forever. If you persist, you can be jailed)" Tulfo said during the hearing.

Tulfo also suggested providing stiffer penalties against any adult who are buying liquor on behalf of minors.

He also proposed stricter monitoring of minors in clubs, hotels and motels, saying these establishments should be located away from schools to prevent them from being tempted to go to these places.

For her part, Sen. Imee Marcos suggested the creation of a task force that will implement EO 141 instead of a Council, which she originally proposed in her bill seeking to address teenage pregnancy.

"Perhaps a task force is more preferable, not a permanent council. (I'm) rethinking my bill," Marcos said.

Sen. Robin Padilla, on the other hand, suggested limiting youths access to social media so they would not be misinformed and misled.

Padilla noted the Philippines is the "most social nation" where 78% of young Filipinos have a mobile phone, and 59% have internet access while 53% have social networking accounts.

Padilla, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, said most teenagers spend as much as six hours a day on social media, much more than the time they spend in school.

"Ang mga bata nakapanood na ng mga porn diyan. Nakakalungkot po. Sila, gusto natin malaman nila ang tama. Ang problema, minsan meron pa tayong bloggers, hindi din natin ma-control, nagkukuwento pa ng kanilang mga sexual exploits sa Facebook (Even children can access pornography on social media. This is very sad because we want the youths to get the right information. Making things worse are bloggers who brag about their sexual exploits on Facebook)," he said at the hearing.

"Meron pa tayong dating sites para sa mga teenagers (There are also dating sites for teenagers)," he added.

Padilla warned that failing to stem or limit the youth from misleading information from social media, will render the programs and bills to fight teenage pregnancy virtually useless.

"Wala po tayong sapat na kapangyarihan para labanan ang mga impormasyon na lumalabas sa social media (We currently do not have the power to stop this disinformation coming out of social media)," he said.