The Commission on Population (PopCom) has expressed concern over the rise in cases of teenage pregnancy in Eastern Visayas with 7% of teenage girls in the region already mothers.
In a press briefing, PopCom Regional Director Elnora Pulma said that as of 2015, nearly 10,000 girls (10 to 19 years old) already started bearing a child with most of them impregnated by boys of the same age.
“Teenage pregnancy is going up in the region and the worse is these pregnancies are sometimes repeated. The youngest girl who got pregnant in the region was 10 years old,” Pulma said.
Among the main reasons many are engaged in adolescent sex are active social media activity, easy access to pornographic sites, peer pressure, and expression of love.
Reyan Arinto, PopCom regional technical service unit chief, said early pregnancies translate to the loss of 10 to 14 million Filipinos who are potential graduates and productive workers every year.
“Because of the stigma attached to teenage pregnancy, teens drop out of school and take good care of their babies. Because of this, the cycle of poverty is repeated among poor families,” he said.
Citing reports from the Department of Education, Arinto revealed that 247 secondary schools in the region have been reporting teenage pregnancy cases among learners every year.
Poor sexual and reproductive health not only affects the youth physically but also socioeconomically, according to PopCom.
PopCom Assistant Regional Director Melanie Alberto urged local government units to come up with policies to prevent teenage pregnancies such as intensified education drive and imposition of curfew on minors.
“Parents should not hesitate to discuss sexuality education with their children so that they would be aware and make right choices. Local governments should also do their part to help prevent this problem,” Alberto said.
According to the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority, there is an increasing prevalence of premarital sex over the years, from 18 percent in 1994 to 32 percent in 2013.
The survey said one out of three Filipino youth engages in premarital sex, which results in the increasing cases of adolescent pregnancy especially in the urban areas. (PNA)