/ 9 April 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday urged the Department of Education to address the gaps in the implementation of Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, saying the pandemic threatens to increase the number of teenage mothers nationwide.

Gatchalian made the call after the Philippine Institute for Development Studies revealed the lack of adequate materials and accessible teacher trainings for the effective implementation of the law which mandates age and development-appropriate reproductive health education.

The Commission on Population and Development said that there has been a 46.43 percent spike in the number of teenage pregnancies in the Cordilleras. It warned that lockdown measures could exacerbate the surge of teenage pregnancy in the country.

In 2020, 2,422 babies were born to teenage parents in the Cordilleras, up from the 1,654 in 2019.

On a national scale, pregnancies among minors aged 15 and below was up by 7 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.

While DepEd has issued guidelines on the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education, PIDS said that when it comes to RPRH education, “there is an apparent lack of qualified manpower, facilities, trainings, instructional materials, coordination, and monitoring system.”

This lack needs to be addressed, Gatchalian said.

“Lalo nating dapat paigtingin ang pagtugon sa mga kakulangang ito, lalo na’t ang pagdami ng mga batang ina ay isa sa mga nakita nating epekto ng pandemya,” the senator pointed out.

“Bagama’t ilang taon na ang lumipas simula nang magkaroon tayo ng batas sa Reproductive Health Law at magkaroon ng polisiya ang DepEd sa usapin ng CSE, may mga kakulangan pa rin tayong nakikita tulad ng sapat na teacher trainings at learning materials upang maging mas mabisa ang pagtuturo ng Comprehensive Sexual Education sa ating mga paaralan,” Gatchalian said.