The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) expressed on Wednesday its full support to Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1979 under Committee Report No. 41 or the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancies Bill brought into the plenary by Senator Risa Hontiveros on March 8.
In a statement, POPCOM said it considers the move "a progressive step forward in addressing the national social emergency of early childbearing among Filipino adolescent girls."
SBN 1979 was co-authored by Senators Imee Marcos, Sonny Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Ramon Revilla Jr. who filed similar measures that were considered during the deliberations of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality which is chaired by Hontiveros.
"If passed into law, SB 1979 will further bolster the enforcement of related legislations such as the [Reproductive Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law, otherwise known as Republic Act 10354 of 2012; and will institutionalize Executive Order 141, which directs a whole-of-government approach in prioritizing measures that will address the causes of adolescent pregnancies," the POPCOM statement read.
The Commission noted that Hontiveros' well-timed sponsorship speech, which was delivered on the celebration of International Women's Day, portrays the plight of young girls who fell victims to early child bearing.
"This dire situation will be more pronounced among those economically challenged, especially in the rural areas, as POPCOM previously cited a 33 percent reduction in the affected families' total savings. Moreover, young mothers will more likely have decreased chances of finishing their education, and will most probably be disadvantaged in terms of career opportunities and lifetime earning capacities," the statement added noting that it will also greatly affect those between the ages of 10 to 14, as their schooling will likely suffer.
During her speech, Hontiveros noted that teen pregnancy costs a young mother as high as PHP83,000 a year, with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) estimating that the Philippine economy loses as much as PHP42 billion in lifetime income.
"These macrolevel numbers are easy to quantify, but for our young parents, their losses may be incalculable in terms of lost opportunities or missed chances. Ito po ang dahilan kung bakit sinusulong ko ngayon ang panukalang batas na ito (This is the reason why I am pushing for this measure right now)," the lawmaker said.
Also backing Hontiveros' call on concerned agencies to implement the measures, such as the inclusion of age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education curriculum in all schools nationwide, POPCOM also calls for proper information on sexual and reproductive health that should be readily made available to teenagers 15 years old and beyond.
Hontiveros also emphasized in her speech the SBN 1979's inclusivity as it was drafted "culturally sensitive" which also considered amendments suggested by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
Her committee is still awaiting for the measure's schedule on its second reading.
Source: Philippines News Agency