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Stricter regulation of alcohol sale, task force sought to address teen pregnancies

Stricter regulations on alcohol sale and the creation of a task force to implement the government's national action plan are among the suggestions that senators discussed Tuesday to address teenage pregnancies in the country.

At a Senate hearing, Senator Imee Marcos asked the government institutions for updates on the implementation of Executive Order 141, signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte, which declared the prevention of teenage pregnancies a national priority.

Executive Director Romeo Dongeto of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development said there was an action plan after the issuance of the EO but it was not implemented.

"There is a national action plan which was produced under the executive order. Unfortunately, wala po masyadong nangyari dito sa national action plan na ito [nothing much happened to it]," Dongeto said.

"We are expecting that the Department of Education will respond to the EO by expediting the rollout of the comprehensive sexuality education. Unfortunately, until now, hindi po ito nai-implement nang buo [it has yet to be implemented wholly]," he added.

Marcos suggested forming a task force that will implement EO 141 instead of a council, which she originally  proposed in her bill seeking to address teenage pregnancy.

"There is a widespread anathema against creating new councils," Marcos said.

"A task force presupposes that it would be in existence six months to two years until the problem is addressed... Perhaps a task force is more preferable, not a permanent council. [I am] just rethinking my bill," she added.

The creation of a task force was backed by Senator Raffy Tulfo, but he also pointed out the need to focus on the prevention of teenage pregnancies.

Among the measures that would help prevent this, he said, is imposing stricter regulation on alcohol sale.

"Nabubuntis 'yung mga teenagers kasi sa inuman. So siguro po isa-suggest ko i-legislate natin ito na magkaroon ng liquor license ang lahat ng mga tindahan na nagtitinda ng liquor," Tulfo said.

"Kapag nag-violate ka, nagbenta ka ng liquor sa minor, kakanselahin ang lisensya mo forever. Di ka na puwede magtinda ng liquor," he added.

(Some teenagers got pregnant after drinking parties. So I suggest we legislate requiring stores selling liquor to have licenses. If they violate by selling liguor to minors, then we cancel the license forever.)

Tulfo also suggested stiffer penalties against adults who are buying liquor on behalf of minors.

Apart from this, Tulfo also proposed stricter monitoring of minors in clubs, hotels and motels. He said hotels should be located away from the schools to make sure that students will not be tempted to cut classes and go to these establishments.

The Department of the Interior and Local and Government and Philippine National Police's women and children's desk should be involved in monitoring these activities, he added.

Tulfo also suggested DepEd, PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation to coordinate with several social media platforms to implement their know-your-client policy as there are some streaming platforms that were used to attract minors to do sexual activities.

This was also raised by Senator Robin Padilla at the latter part of the hearing, saying the young ones are able to watch porn on social media sites because of lack of regulations. —KBK, GMA Integrated News