Press Release
June 28, 2006

DepEd's controversial sex education modules to be discussed

The Senate Committee on Health and Demography chaired by Sen. Pia S. Cayetano will conduct a series of hearings on various legislative measures on reproductive health and its different aspects beginning Thursday, June 29.

The initial hearing seeks to draw up a general overview of existing policies and programs of the government and private sector on the different elements of reproductive health.

"We have to establish first if existing programs have been able to carry out effectively the objective to educate people, promote awareness and deliver basic services related to reproductive health," Cayetano said. "Only then can we proceed into the details and identify which specific measures should be given priority."

She pointed out that a total of 21 bills will be considered by the committee covering five key elements of reproductive health, including: Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition; Breast and Reproductive Health; Men's Reproductive Health; Reproductive Health and Population Management; Adolescent Reproductive Health; and Prevention and Management of Abortion Complications.

The hearings will be timely amid the controversy surrounding the plan of the Department of Education (DepEd) to include sex education modules into the high school curriculum as part of the population control program of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), as well as recent studies indicating that the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country may actually be bigger than what official figures show.

The DepEd's sex education program has earned criticism from the Catholic Church leaders who have warned that the program could lead to teenage pregnancies and abortion. Acting Sec. Fe Hidalgo and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) are among those invited to the hearing.

Cayetano herself has expressed support for initiatives to include sex education in the public school system. "This matter should be handled by competent individuals due to its delicate nature, and because misinformation among the youth can easily lead to wrong decisions," she said.

Other invited resource speakers to Thursday's hearing are Health Sec. Francisco Duque, Dr. Jean Marc Olive, World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, and representatives from the local government and association of municipal health officers.

"It is our committee's duty to hear the side of all sectors concerned and rise above even the most contentious aspects of reproductive health," Cayetano said. "Because at the end of the day, everyone is accountable for the health and general well-being of our people."

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