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2 senators call for probe into rising incidents of teenage pregnancy

Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Sonny Angara are seeking an inquiry to determine the cause and find ways to address the increasing number of teenage pregnancy in the country.

The move came after reproductive health, women’s rights, and youth advocates have expressed alarm over the high incidence of adolescent pregnancies in the Philippines.

On October 23, the “No More Children Having Children” campaign was launched to urge lawmakers to propose laws addressing the problem of teenage pregnancy, and to push for a  review of the implementation of Reproductive Health Law, especially on mandatory comprehensive sexuality education.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2014 showed that at least 24 babies are delivered by teenage mothers every hour.

Meanwhile, 1 in 10 women aged 15 to 19 years old have begun childbearing, according to the 2017 data of National Demographic and Health Survey.

Gatchalian said current teenage pregnancy rates in the country are alarming, and this should prompt senators to review and enhance existing laws to save teenagers from getting pregnant and "falling into the trap of inter-generational poverty."

“Napagkakaitan ang mga kabataan ng maayos na kalusugan at magandang kinabukasan kung hindi natin sila magagabayan sa usapin ng RH (reproductive health)," he said.

"Kung may mabisang programa at sapat na kakayahan ang mga paaralan para magturo ng comprehensive sexuality education, maiiwasan natin ang pagdami ng mga batang tumitigil sa pag-aaral dahil sa maagang pagbubuntis," he added.

For his part, Angara expressed concern over the possible consequences of early pregnancy to the teenagers' education and growth.

“What is even more alarming is that 30 to 50 percent of these pregnancies involved 10-year-old girls. Children this age should be in school and playing with other kids. They cannot possibly be ready to get pregnant and raise their own children,” Angara said.

“When young girls get pregnant, they are forced to quit school. Their lives take an unexpected detour, ambitions are set aside and they effectively lose their childhood. No child should have to go through this,” he added.

Both lawmakers have vowed to file resolutions to conduct an inquiry with the end goal of strengthening the Reproductive Health Law or crafting a whole new law to address teenage pregnancies.

“We need urgency in institutionalizing measures and ensuring their proper implementation to address this situation. Protecting girls from teenage pregnancy empowers them to be independent and economically productive members of the society,” Gatchalian said. —Erwin Colcol/LBG, GMA News