The widespread incidence of teen-aged pregnancy has prompted a legislator to ask the Congress for the swift passage of a bill that institutionalizes a national policy on teenage pregnancy prevention.
House of Representatives Assistant Majority Leader Fidel Nograles issued the appeal in the wake of reports that about 40 to 50 Filipino children aged 10 to 14 give birth every week.
The Commission on Population and Development (PopCom) earlier reported that an estimated 2,250 children belonging to the 10 to 14 age group gave birth in 2018. The figure is more than double the estimated 1,000 in 2007.
A study conducted by the University of the Philippines’ Population Institute projected more than two million births in the country next year. According to the said study, around 200,000 of these births, or about 10 percent, would be from the 20 and below age group.
“The numbers are staggering, and the Congress must do its part to help address this urgent issue,” Nograles, vice chair of the House committee on justice, said.
“I appeal to my fellow legislators to have this bill debated now and passed at the soonest possible time to address this issue on teenage pregnancy.”
Nograles filed House Bill 5516, or the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2019.
The measure aims to give teenagers full and comprehensive information that could help them prevent early and unintended pregnancies.
If passed, the government would be mandated to develop an evidence-based, medium-term National Program of Action for the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancies. The program of action shall serve as the national framework for inter-agency and inter-sectoral collaboration at all levels to address the various health, cultural, socio-economic, and institutional determinants of teenage pregnancy.
The measure would also provide support and incentives to adolescent parents to continue their education.
Nograles, who represents Rizal province, expressed fears that if left unchecked, more people would spiral down into poverty due to adolescent pregnancy.
“Amid a pandemic, and in our recovery efforts in the succeeding years, it would be an added burden if our population is allowed to boom unchecked, especially when future parents belong to a vulnerable age and sector and would be hard-pressed to fend for themselves,” he said.
“We must protect the youth from being robbed of their future because of ill-informed choices. As it is, they are already facing an uphill battle because of the setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s have this bill passed now,” said Nograles.