PCW raises alarm over teen pregnancy crisis

By Keren Anne V. Bernadas


The commissioner for Education of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) has raised the alarm over the impending national crisis of teenage pregnancy in the country.


PCW Commissioner Cristita C. Triunfante vowed to continue raising awareness on the dangers of rising cases of teenage pregnancy.


The teenage pregnancy rate in the Philippines was 10 percent in 2008, down to 9 percent in 2017. Live births by teenage mothers (aged 10-19) in 2016 totalled 203,085, which slightly decreased to 196,478 in 2017 and 183,000 in 2018. Still, the Philippines has one of the highest adolescent birth rates among the ASEAN countries.


Triunfante, who was a guest during the Kapihan sa PIA Bicol on Mar. 18, said that as an administering agency, PCW, puts its effort to institutionalize a national policy to prevent teenage pregnancy.


One of these policies is the Prevention of Adolescent Acts of 2020, which includes provisions of health services for women and girls, and target of zero teenage pregnancy.


PCW, as member of the national implementing team for Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health, recently conducted dialogue with House Speaker Allan Velasco and Senate President Vicente Sotto III for possible collaboration to further push for the enactment of the women related-legislation.


Triunfante added that the commission is planning more effective ways to mainstream gender and development among different countries. For one, PCW has collaborated with the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to integrate comprehensive sexuality education in their curricula.


Former Director of the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) 5 Lourdes P. Nacionales, in previous interviews at Ugnayan sa Bicol, cited that among 108,000 mothers who gave birth in 2019 in the region, 11,300 were teenagers with 12 years old as the youngest.


POPCOM now focuses to implement its social protection to all teenage mothers and aims to zero the teenage pregnancy cases in the region.


On the other hand, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol Regional Director Arnel B. Garcia, who also participated during the Kapihan sa PIA Bicol, said that modules pertaining to teenage pregnancy, its effects and impacts, are given during the family development sessions among family beneficiaries under Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program.


Garcia added that they also utilize a Facebook page for youth as avenue for advocacy, campaigns and module for youth and women empowerment.


In the 2017 Listahanan, Garcia said that 52.8 M women are part of the nine basic sectors of livelihood: fisher folks, farmers, children, self-employed, unpaid, family workers all belonging to poor families.


In Bicol region, there are 1.287-M women that belongs to the age bracket of 18–59 years old.


Those who are considered poor reached 460,000 that is why women were considered vulnerable sectors in the society, Garcia added.


Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib, Police Regional Office 5 spokesperson, cited that in 2020, there were about 737 Violence Against Women (VAW) cases in the forms of physical (448 incidents), psychological (215 incidents), economical (70 incidents) and sexual abuse (4 incidents).


Among the reported VAW cases, the PNP5 Women and Children’s Desk (WCPD) also recorded that 187 are cleared 545 were solved, and 5 are still under investigation.


About 659 rape cases were also reported. There were 313 rape cases solved, 341 cleared while 5 are still under investigation.


Calubaquip said that personnel from WCPD are determined to pursue its advocacy programs against VAW despite the rising case, especially during Covid-19 pandemic. She added that if the public is aware of women’s rights, they will eventually turn to police for help and file charges.


Meanwhile, Garcia further said that DSWD promotes the welfare and rights of every woman. If there is a need to voice out, a woman shall do so. Voiceless people are either you are permitted not to speak or you are deliberately unheard. A woman should put a voice to those who are voiceless. (PIA5)