/ 5 July 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday reiterated the need to address existing gaps in the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education, which is highlighted in the passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

The RPRH law mandates the delivery of age-appropriate reproductive health education to enable minors to protect themselves from pregnancy, sexual abuse, and gender-based violence, among others.

To guide the delivery of CSE, the Department of Education issued Order No. 31 s. 2018.

However, despite the passage of the law, the Commission on Population and Development reported that teenage pregnancies in the country continued to rise.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, has warned that lockdown measures due to the Covid19 pandemic could lead to a teenage pregnancy boom.

POPCOM reported that in 2020, there were 2,422 babies born in the Cordilleras, an increase of 46.43 percent from the 1,654 born in 2019.

It said that in 2019, the number of Filipino minors who gave birth increased to 62,510 from 62,341 in 2018.

The commission also reported that in 2019, 2,411 girls aged 10 to 14 gave birth, a three-fold increase from the 755 recorded in 2000.

In a March 2021 discussion paper, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies pointed out that RPRH education lacks qualified manpower and sufficient facilities, trainings, and instructional materials, coordination and monitoring system.

The state think tank also added that trainings on sexuality education curriculum integration were inadequate and inaccessible.

Gatchalian aims to harness the Alternative Learning System’s potential to help facilitate the reintegration of young mothers to the education system and continue their learning.

The senator is the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act 1510 or the Alternative Learning System Act.

“Ang pagbibigay ng sapat at wastong edukasyon ay isa sa mga pinakamahalagang hakbang na puwede nating gawin upang hindi mapagkaitan ang ating mga kabataan ng magandang kinabukasan,” Gatchalian said.