By Ellson Quismorio
A lawyer-congressman is batting for the creation of a national policy for the prevention of teenage pregnancy, which has become a major problem in the country.
Rizal 2nd district Rep. Fidel Nograles justified the filing of House Bill (HB) No.5516 by saying that the Philippines has been setting record-high teenage pregnancy numbers in Southeast Asia.
The measure is known as the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2019, which aims to give adolescents full and comprehensive information that can help them prevent early and unintended pregnancies.
Nograles said the prevalence of teenage pregnancy creates a gap between young parents and services such as health, nutrition, education, and training, which is expected to be beneficial in the future in terms of growth and income.
“For those who are already poor, going back to school is no longer an option and accelerating to employment becomes a more viable alternative,” lamented the neophyte solon.
“Without education and skills, this means low-paying and short-term jobs for the adolescent parent and therefore low investments for health, nutrition and later education for the child. As this persists, the adolescent parent and child are mired in the vicious cycle of inter-generational poverty,” he said.
Teenage pregnancy affects 5.99 percent of Filipino girls, the second-highest rate in Southeast Asia based on the Save the Children’s Global Childhood Report this year, HB No.5516 noted.
According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, an estimated 538 new-born babies are born to Filipino teenage mothers every single day.
“We should start viewing the issue of teenage pregnancy with the same level of urgency as other factors such as poverty, education, and access to reproductive health services. Otherwise, all our efforts, along with the potentials of future leaders and workforce of the country, will all go to waste as teenage pregnancy robs our children of their future,” said Nograles, a Harvard graduate.
The bill calls for the development of 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 proposed legislation will also encourage adolescent parents to continue and finish their education in order to equip them for a better life, to increase their human potential, and to develop more informed decision-making skills that will help them when they reach adulthood.
The government recently raised concern on the spiking cases of teenage pregnancy, as Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said that the growing problem has negatively impacted the economic growth of the country.