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Senate inquiry into teenage pregnancies sought

February 7, 2023 Camille P. Balagtas 235 views

As the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) raises concerns on teenage pregnancies among minors aged 10 to 14, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said he will pursue a Senate inquiry to help strengthen the Department of Education’s implementation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).

Despite the decline of early pregnancies in the 15 to 19 age group, the POPCOM is now alarmed by the number of pregnancies in the 10 to 14 age group. Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Civil Registry of Statistics, POPCOM director Lisa Grace Bersales said there were 2,113 births recorded from the 10 to 14 age group in 2020. Data from the Field Health Service Information System of the Department of Health (DOH), for its part, reveals that 2,354 girls in the age group gave birth in 2020, while 2,299 gave birth in 2021.

Gatchalian last year filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 13, which seeks a Senate inquiry on the number of adolescent pregnancies and the rise of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections among the youth. The inquiry will review the existing CSE policy to assess the comprehensiveness of its scope and the effectiveness of its implementation.

The implementation of CSE is guided by DepEd Order No. 31 s. 2018, which was issued in compliance with the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (RPRH) of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10354). The law provides that age and development-appropriate reproductive health education shall be taught in basic education institutions. It also directs the DepEd to formulate a curriculum for the use of public schools.

The United Nations and Population Fund (UNFPA), however, has flagged that there has been a long delay in the integration and implementation of the CSE in the K to 12 curricula. A March 2021 discussion paper by the state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) also revealed challenges hounding the implementation of CSE, which includes the lack of sufficient materials and facilities. Training on sexuality curriculum integration has also been inadequate and inaccessible, the study said.

“Napagkakaitan ng oportunidad na makapag-aral at magkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan ang mga batang nagiging ina. Sa gitna ng nakakaalarmang bilang ng mga batang 10 hanggang 14 taong gulang na nagiging ina, napapanahong suriin natin nang mabuti kung epektibo nga ba ang polisiya ng ating mga paaralan sa pagpapatupad ng comprehensive sexuality education,” said Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.