Covering the forum of the Association of Government Information Officers (AGIO-7) and Philippine Information Agency-7 recently, was a great satisfaction for me as one of the topics discussed included the initiatives of government agencies in pushing for the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, a priority agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte and of which I am in favor.
I am for the implementation of the RH Law as this would help address the rising rate of teenage pregnancy in the country. I am shocked with the revelation that one in every 10 Filipino women between 15 to 19 years old has either given birth or is pregnant for the first time.
What is even more horrifying for me is to know that in Cebu, there was a recorded 12-year old girl that got pregnant.
I am concerned that whereas adolescent fertility rate is declining in countries in the Asia Pacific, my country goes in the opposite direction with an increasing incidence of teenage pregnancy. Both POPCOM-7 and the Church described the situation as already "alarming."
This is a sensitive issue to me as our family faced two years ago a case of unwanted pregnancy when my 18-year old nephew came home one night and broke the news that his 16-year old girlfriend was two weeks pregnant.
We were all shocked and I was teary-eyed seeing my nephew, who have just graduated from high school and about to enter college, become a father. I thought to myself at the time: "Does he actually know what he is getting into?" Tears rolled down my cheeks because I knew his dreams - he wanted to become an engineer and he wanted to help his parents. But how can he now fulfill these with a child of his own about to come?
I asked him why did it happen and he just simply said "We forgot the right thing to do and we did not know what to do. In the act of doing it, we simply forgot everything," he said.
As I weighed in the situation, I surmised that there was probably a lack of information that would guide them on what is right. The sort of information that would serve as guidance and reminder that would teach them and other teenagers that physical intimacy is sacred and that sex can wait. I am saddened that with the situation, the fulfilment of their dreams would be derailed or worse, can never be materialised.
I believe the rising teenage pregnancy is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed and acted upon. I am happy that the RH Law is a priority agenda of the President but the problem, however, cannot be solve by government alone. There must be collaborative efforts from all sectors in the community including and especially the parents.
During the AGIO-PIA 7 AGIOforum, panelist POPCOM-7 Regional Director Atty. Bruce Ragas said that President Duterte included the full implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproduc
tive Health Law in his 10-point Agenda. This made me happy as this would definitely address the issue of rising teenage pregnancy in the Philippines.
I am also extremely glad that DepEd-7 has a collaborative project dubbed 'Operation Light House Keeping' with the Cebu Provincial Government, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and a private organization. The project's objective is to conduct module training to head teachers and teachers handling grade 7 to 12 on topics like Sex by God's Design, Marriage by Gods' Design, Marriage by God's Time and other relative topics. This way, teenagers can strengthen their spiritual values as admittedly, there is a decline in moral values among the youths today.
DepEd-7 also committed to educate and discuss with parents the issue of teenage pregnancy in the quarterly meeting between the teachers and parents.
But what made my spirits really high was the commitment of the Church to help. The Church even before is not in favor of the RH Law but in the case of educating the youths on responsible parenthood and treating the physical body as sacred could somehow make an impact to teenagers not to engage in early sex.
During the forum, Rev. Fr. Eligio Suico of the Cebu Archdiocese talked about the Church's contribution where he, as chairman on the Commission on Family and Life, is already drafting a roadmap on the education of Human Sexuality.
Although the issue on rising teenage pregnancy cannot be solved overnight, I am relieved that bold steps have been taken by the present administration to enforce the implementation of the RH law, which is long overdue. If we remember, the law was passed four years ago, but was met with vehement protests and opposition especially by the Catholic Church.
I honestly believe that there are parents, uncles, and aunties like me out there who feel relieved because the Duterte Administration is not playing blind and deaf to those who are in favor of the RH Law, which can help address the issue on teenage pregnancy. The law in a way can help the Filipino youth fulfill their dreams and contribute to building a better Philippines.
Source: Philippine Information Agency