According to Commission on Population (PopCom) regional director for National Capital Region (NCR) Lydio Español Jr., the “contribution of religious belief to abstain from premarital sexual activities” has not been maintained over the years.
Michael Varcas/File
PopCom blames moral decadence for teen pregnancies
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - November 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — “Moral decadence” is one of the reasons why teenage pregnancy is on the rise in the country.  

According to Commission on Population (PopCom) regional director for National Capital Region (NCR) Lydio Español Jr., the “contribution of religious belief to abstain from premarital sexual activities” has not been maintained over the years.

Because of this, he said, more under-aged girls are getting pregnant. Every day, it is estimated that there are 500 cases or around 200,000 a year. 

Español noted that while the “easiest way” to address the problem is through an executive order from President Duterte declaring teenage pregnancy as a “national emergency,” it is important to tap the religious sector.

“It is not only the government that has to look for solution to this problem,” he said. “So we have to work with religious organizations” which have criticized the government’s program for its lack of “morality aspect,” he told The Chiefs on OneNews at Cignal TV.

He added the religious sector may be able to influence the youth “in terms of values, as one of the factors of increasing teen pregnancy is the moral decadence.”

Español also said parents play the most important role in promoting responsible parenthood and reproductive health. 

However, these topics are taboo in most Filipino homes.

“Supposedly, it’s the parents who should educate their children.  But the problem is not all parents are comfortable discussing that topic in their homes,” he added.

Only 10 percent of Filipino families tackle adolescent sexuality at home, so the children are forced to get information somewhere else.

In NCR, he said most local government units are seeing an upward trend in teenage pregnancy.

The city of Manila posted the highest incidence at 72 per 1,000 adolescents aged 10 to 19 years old. Most of the cases are among the informal settlers.

Español added one in three individuals aged 19 years and below are sexually active and “of those active, 78 percent are not even using protection” to prevent pregnancy.

Given this, the goal now of PopCom is to prevent repeat pregnancy among teenage mothers. 

He said this can be done by making sure that adolescents have adequate access to information and services on family planning. 

But the official maintained that access to services and information has been “unluckily” restricted in effect by a Supreme Court ruling on the RH law.

“So they have to go through the process of getting consent from their parents or their guardians... If that’s the case, we have to educate all parents to provide consent,” he added. 

Español said PopCom is looking forward to the integration of “comprehensive sexuality education” in four subjects starting in Grade 5 to curb early pregnancy.

These subjects are MAPEH or Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health; Values, Biology and Social Studies.

“Our message is ‘Piliin ang Pangarap, Huwag Ipagpalit sa Sandalig Sarap.’  That’s our campaign all over the country.  Students are asked what their dreams are,” he added. 

COMMISSION ON POPULATIONNATIONAL CAPITAL REGION
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