By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Following the issuance of an executive order declaring the prevention
of teenage pregnancy as a national priority, Senator Win Gatchalian
reiterated the need to address existing gaps in delivering
comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), which is highlighted in the
passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH)
Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10354).
The RPRH law mandates the delivery of age-appropriate and
developmentally appropriate reproductive health education. This should
capacitate minors on protecting one’s self from teenage pregnancy,
sexual abuse, gender-based violence, and responsible teenage behavior,
among others. To guide the delivery of CSE, the Department of
Education (DepEd) issued Order No. 31 s. 2018.
Despite the passage of the law, the Commission on Population and
Development (POPCOM) reported that teenage pregnancies in the country
continued to rise. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic
Education, Arts and Culture repeatedly warned that lockdown measures
due to the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a teenage pregnancy boom.
POPCOM reported that in 2020, there were 2,422 babies born in the
Cordilleras, an increase of 46.43 percent from the 1,654 born in 2019.
POPCOM said that in 2019, the number of Filipino minors who gave birth
in 2019 increased to 62,510 from 62,341 in 2018. The commission also
reported that in 2019, 2,411 girls aged 10 to 14 gave birth, a
three-fold increase from the 755 recorded in 2000.
In a March 2021 discussion paper, the Philippine Institute for
Development Studies (PIDS) also pointed out that RPRH education lacks
qualified manpower and sufficient facilities, trainings, and
instructional materials, coordination and monitoring system. The state
think tank also added that trainings on sexuality education curriculum
integration was inadequate and inaccessible.
The senator cited the Alternative Learning System’s (ALS) potential to
help facilitate the reintegration of young mothers to the education
system and continue their learning. Gatchalian is the principal author
and sponsor of Republic Act No. 1510 or the Alternative Learning
“Ang pagbibigay ng sapat at wastong edukasyon ay isa sa mga
pinakamahalagang hakbang na pwede nating gawin upang hindi mapagkaitan
ang ating mga kabataan ng magandang kinabukasan,” said Gatchalian. (ai/mtvn)