Several sectors in the Philippines called for “urgent action” on reports that a growing number of very young Filipinos are getting pregnant in recent years.
In a report released this week, the Philippine Statistics Authority noted that seven young adolescent girls with ages between 10 and 14 gave birth per day in 2019.
The report said births among young adolescent girls below 15 years old went up by seven percent in 2019 compared to 2018.
The total number of Filipino children who became mothers in 2019 also increased slightly to 62,510 from 62,341 in 2018.
The Commission on Population and Development warned that this is the ninth year since 2011 that this figure has continued to rise.
This alarming rate would be unchanged and could even increase during the pandemic, added the commission.
The University of the Philippines’ Population Institute and the UN Population Fund said teenage pregnancy in the country may increase by an additional 18,000 as a result of barriers to services because of COVID-19 restrictions.
In addition, the unmet need for family planning can increase to 2.07 million by the end of 2020, having a 67 percent increase compared to 2019.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, author of the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Bill, calls for an immediate action on the issue.
“If the increase of the teenage pregnancies cases will not be resolved, it will add more burden to our healthcare system, our economy and in the long-run, our plans for the next generation,” said the legislator.
“Let our children be children and to allow them to grow and fulfil their full potential,” she added
“Teenage pregnancy takes away the future of our young girls and restricts them to reach their full potential and make decisions that affect their own lives,” said Rep. Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba, author of the counterpart bill at the House of Representatives.
“Challenges like this are made more stark in times of crisis like the present pandemic. We owe it to our young girls to give them a better future, to give them a life with dignity where their choices are respected,” said Acosta-Alba.
Rom Dongeto, executive director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development, called on Congress for urgent action on the issue by deliberating and voting on the bills.
“We cannot leave young people in the dark. We have to ensure that they have both the correct information and appropriate services on reproductive health,” said Dongeto.
Currently, there are seven bills awaiting committee action at the House of Representatives while the bill in the Senate is already under the “period of interpellation.”