Lilian (not her real name), 13 and in Grade 7, is six-month pregnant.
Marjorie and Lilian are among the alarming statistics of teenage pregnancy in the country.
Last August, NEDA Executive Director Ernesto Pernia has called for the teenage pregnancy as a ‘national emergency’.
According to Commission on Population and Development (Popcom), Philippines ranks second in the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) and fourth in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of teenage pregnancy.
More than 500 adolescents are getting pregnant and giving birth every day.
In some regions in Mindanao, more than 15 percent of teenagers are at present pregnant or have given birth.
“What is more alarming is that one out of six girl teenagers or out of 200,000 adolescents giving birth, 60,000 of them are repeat pregnancies, the worst I knew have already eight children during her teenage years,” USec. Juan Antonio Perez III, executive director of Popcom, said during the recent regional awarding of Kaunlarang Pantao.
He added, “This is a social emergency because their pregnancy is not normal, the age of sexual consent is 12 years old if you got pregnant at 10, 11 or even 12, you have possibly been raped."
These are cases of rape and abuse that must be given attention and action at the barangay level, according to USec. Perez.
USec. Perez have likewise raised that for the past eight years, 1.2 million of young girls gave birth in the Philippines need social benefits and protection.
An average of 150,000 teenagers are giving birth annually and starting a family of their own.
An urgent concern of the Popcom is for an executive order to be released declaring the problem as a national emergency so that national agencies can work together and provide the youth with access to reproductive health services if they are already parents.
“Family planning services must be made accessible to these youth to prevent them having repeat teenage pregnancies,” USec. Perez said.
They must be provided information on family planning so they will empowered not to make repeat pregnancies during their teenage years.
“No more children having children” is a campaign with the collaboration of Popcom, Department of Health, some members of the Congress, along with some civil society organizations.
Popcom likewise pushes for the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill, inked by Senator Risa Hontiveros, which seeks a comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education for the Filipino youth. (JCR/AMB/JDS/PIA La Union)