Following the Commission on Population and Development’s (POPCOM) report that pregnancies among minors aged 10-14 was up by 7 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, Senator Win Gatchalian is calling for a more aggressive government response to prevent young girls from being pregnant and falling in the trap of ‘intergenerational poverty.’
Gatchalian also warned that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to further increase the number of adolescent pregnancies, citing experiences from past calamities and disasters. When Typhoon Yolanda struck, 23.5 percent of teenage girls in Eastern Visayas got pregnant, according to a study by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP).
For Gatchalian, curbing the surge of adolescent pregnancies requires reproductive health education with a grassroots approach, which will mobilize schools and barangays in reaching out to girls and their parents. Keeping girls in schools, Gatchalian said, is the best strategy to prevent teenage pregnancy, where they can access information and sexuality education.
The senator also emphasized the role of parents as health educators in shaping young people’s attitude and behavior. Parents need to be capacitated in terms of effectively talking to their children about sexuality and reproductive health issues.
Republic Act 10354 or Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 calls for an age-appropriate and development-appropriate reproductive health education, which aims to build knowledge and skills on protecting one’s self from teen pregnancy, sexual abuse, gender based violence, and responsible teenage behavior, among others.
“Bago pa tumama ang pandemya sa ating bansa ay isang krisis nang maituturing ang pagdami ng mga kaso ng teenage pregancy sa bansa. Sa ating pagtugon sa krisis na ito, kailangan nating tulungan ang mga kabataan at ang kanilang mga magulang sa pamamagitan ng mga mas pinaigting na programang pang-kalusugan at edukasyon,” said Gatchalian.
The lawmaker recently filed Senate Bill No. 1985, which seeks to institutionalize and establish the Parent Effectiveness Service Program in every city and municipality. The program aims to assist parents and parent substitutes in building their skills and knowledge to provide quality care during the critical stages of children’s development.