/ 13 February 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Friday urged the government to be more aggressive in its campaign to curb teenage pregnancy.

He said that without intervention, more young girls would get pregnant and fall in the trap of intergenerational poverty.

In its recent report, the Commission on Population and Development said that pregnancies among minors aged 10 to 14 was up by seven percent in 2019.

Gatchalian warned that the Covid19 pandemic could further increase the number of adolescent pregnancies, citing experiences from past calamities and disasters.

When Typhoon Yolanda struck, 23.5 percent of teenage girls in Eastern Visayas got pregnant, according to a study by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines.

To curb the surge of adolescent pregnancies, the government would have to mount a reproductive health education program with a grassroots approach. This would entail the mobilization of schools and barangays in reaching out to girls and their parents, the senator said.

Keeping girls in schools, Gatchalian said, is the best strategy to prevent teenage pregnancy.

He also emphasized the role of parents as health educators in shaping young people’s attitude and behavior. Parents need to be capacitated to effectively discuss sexuality and reproductive health issues with their children.

Republic Act 10354 or Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 calls for an age-appropriate and development-appropriate reproductive health education, which aims to build knowledge and skills on protecting one’s self from teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, gender based violence, and responsible teenage behavior, among others.

“Bago pa tumama ang pandemya sa ating bansa ay isang krisis nang maituturing ang pagdami ng mga kaso ng teenage pregancy sa bansa. Sa ating pagtugon sa krisis na ito, kailangan nating tulungan ang mga kabataan at ang kanilang mga magulang sa pamamagitan ng mga mas pinaigting na programang pang-kalusugan at edukasyon,” Gatchalian said.

The lawmaker recently filed Senate Bill 1985, which seeks to institutionalize and establish the Parent Effectiveness Service Program in every city and municipality.

The program aims to assist parents and parent substitutes in building their skills and knowledge to provide quality care during the critical stages of children’s development.