Duterte urged to declare teen pregnancies a national social emergency
File photo shows young mothers with their children.
The STAR/File

Duterte urged to declare teen pregnancies a national social emergency

(Philstar.com) - February 11, 2021 - 5:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Population and Development is renewing its call for President Rodrigo Duterte to formally declare teenage pregnancies a national social emergency.

This comes after PopCom reported last week that births among girls aged 14 years and below jumped by seven percent in 2019 against the previous year’s figure provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). "In 2019, [there were] 2,411 girls considered as very young adolescents aged 10 to 14 [who] gave birth,” it said. 

PopCom Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III in an interview with ANC's "Dateline" said the commission's board of directors "have already drafted an executive order for the president to declare [teenage pregnancies] a national social emergency." The commission has been asking Duterte to issue an executive order on the matter since 2019. 

Perez said they are still "pushing for a formal declaration from Malacañang," even as the board has been convinced for years that teenage pregnancies are a national social emergency. 

"For the past five years, we've had 300,000 families started by minor children, and that impacts on poverty in this country," he said. 

"If we declare it an emergency, young people should have easier access to family planning and reproductive health services."

What else can be done?

According to Perez, PopCom is already working on setting up a social protection program to provide such services, noting that he hopes to have them in place within a year.

"[D]efinitely, we will start to provide [reproductive health] services for adolescents in some key cities," he said, adding that PopCom is already coordinating with mayors.

In addition to this, he called on Congress to make it "a policy to provide social protection for teenage mothers."

Perez also called on lawmakers to legislate preventative broader and more comprehensive sexuality education that is not just restricted to schools.

"[W]e have to go to the communities, reach out to the parents," he said. "We need, in a way, [a] tweaking [of the] current services for young people."

Sen. Risa Hontiveros earlier this week renewed her call for the passage of Senate Bill No. 161, which she filed in July 2019, seeking to institutionalize social protection for teenage parents.

— Bella Perez-Rubio with a report from The STAR

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