December 7, 2023

Reports about more women who are barely into their teens getting pregnant have mobilized concerned stakeholders to take additional measures to educate them and protect them from unplanned pregnancies.
In the Cordillera, a report about a 13-year-old being the youngest mother has caused concern, especially since while teenage pregnancy in the region shows a decreasing trend, the number of those getting pregnant are getting younger.
In a press statement, Population Commission-Cordillera Acting Director Cecile Basawil called on local government units, civil society organizations, regional line agencies, and other stakeholders and partners to strengthen sexual education so that causes of adolescent pregnancies will be addressed.
Data provided by the Popcom showed that in 2013, the Cordillera has the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the country based on the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey (YAFSS) 4 of the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI).
In the 2021 YAFSS 5, the Cordillera showed a large decline in teen pregnancy among 15 to 19 years old from 18.4 percent in 2013 to seven percent in 2021. From the figures, it was found that 53.1 percent of youth in the Cordillera aged 15 to 24 used contraceptives at first pre-marital sex (PMS) among those who had PMS.
But preventing teenage pregnancies is only one concern. Another concern is to prevent repeat teenage pregnancies, Basawil said.
“We need to not only stop teen pregnancies from happening but to also protect those who are already young mothers to not have any more children while they are still in their teens,” Basawil said.
Initiatives include collaboration with LGUs and the CSOs on responsible sexuality, provision of life skills, support to comprehensive sexuality education, information and service delivery network to ensure harmonized planning, coordination, funding, implementation and monitoring of adolescent health and development-related interventions at the local level.
Popcom also has a continuing collaboration with the Department of Education for the latter’s comprehensive sexuality education program.
By training teachers using the Sexually Healthy and Personally Empowered Adolescents (Shape-A) module by the end of 2022, Popcom and DepEd-Cordillera trained 166 teachers from the six schools divisions on the Shape-A module. 
Shape-A is an educational tool which aims to increase the awareness of adolescents on fertility awareness, sexual and reproductive health.
Another program is the Social Protection Program for Adolescent Mothers and their Children that will be piloted in Baguio City. This aims to contribute to better and improved quality of life and well-being of adolescent mothers and their children through provision of financial assistance, support to health, education, family planning, basic life support training and assessment of nutritional status.
Meanwhile, the development and humanitarian organization, Plan International, submitted its position paper regarding House bills 79, 2062, 2524, 3211, 5559, and House Resolution 288, which all dwell on addressing adolescent pregnancy.
Suggestions of Plan International to address adolescent or teenage pregnancy are the implementation of age and deve-lopment-appropriate comprehensive sex education in both formal and non-formal settings; parents and communities should be engaged to embrace and support adolescents’ learning about their bodies, relationships, gender and sexuality; provide age- and gender-responsive services for adolescents, adolescent mothers and pregnant adolescents; build a positive and supportive environment by putting in place policies and mechanisms for adolescents to decide for themselves and practice positive sexual behaviors.
The House Committee on Youth and Sports Development on Feb. 2 approved these proposals for consolidation by the committee on style before submission to the plenary for further deliberation. – Rimaliza A. Opiña