SEN. Juan Edgardo M. Angara, sounding an alarm over the rising incidence of teenage pregnancies, pressed for an inquiry into steps the government could take to address the problem soonest.
“Child and teenage pregnancies in the country are growing at an alarming rate and it is imperative for the government to do something about this at the soonest possible time,” Angara said over the weekend.
In a statement, Angara asserted that data on child and teenage pregnancies in the country should be “a cause for alarm” noting that the Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) sees the need to declare a national emergency.
The senator recalled that in the 2017 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority found that nine percent of teenage women aged 15 to 19 have begun childbearing.
He noted that the survey showed that the highest incidence of teenage pregnancies was recorded in Davao, Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen, adding that the Popcom also cited statistics that an average of 530 teenage girls get pregnant daily. In 2017, the figure went as high as 574 per day.
“What is even more alarming is that 30 percent to 50 percent of these pregnancies involved 10-year-old girls. Children this age should be in school and playing with other kids. They cannot possibly be ready to get pregnant and raise their own children,” Angara said.
“When young girls get pregnant, they are forced to quit school. Their lives take an unexpected detour, ambitions are set aside and they effectively lose their childhood. No child should have to go through this,” he added.
Citing the Department of Education, Angara added that underage pregnancies has led to an increase in the dropout rate among female students.
The senator confirmed plans to file a resolution seeking an inquiry into the rising incidence of child and teenage pregnancies, with the end in view of strengthening Republic Act 10534, or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, which mandates the provision of age and development-appropriate reproductive health education, including teenage pregnancy.
RA 10354 also mandates the DepEd to formulate a curriculum for each educational level or group, subject to consultations with parents-teachers-community associations, school officials and other interest groups, to be used by public schools and may be adopted by their private counterparts.
In its fourth Annual RPRH Report, the Department of Health noted that the unmet need for family planning was one of the major roadblocks in addressing teenage pregnancies.The report indicated that 35.8 percent of adolescents aged 15 to 19 have access to any family planning method, while only 29.7 percent have access to any modern method of family planning.
“With the Philippines having one of the lowest minimum age of sexual consent and the high prevalence of unmet need for family planning, it is necessary to review our policies in order to prevent child and teenage pregnancies,” Angara said.