Press Release
February 12, 2020

Sponsorship Speech of Senator Risa Hontiveros
Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy

12 February 2020

Magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.

Around the globe, 16 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 years old give birth every year. Over the same period, approximately one million young girls aged 15 years old and below have given birth. In the Philippines, 24 babies are born to young Filipino mothers every hour, Mr. President. At the end of every day, 504 children have born a child.

Girls as young as 9 were reported to be pregnant. They still have a body of a child that threatens to break under the pressure from the one inside of them. Have these girls ever doubted if they would survive the birth? I fervently hope that they did, Mr. President. The alternative is just too harrowing to think of but is a reality we cannot afford to ignore.

In 2012, 2,815 girls aged 15-19 years gave birth to their third child; 12 girls younger than 15 years have also borne three children. In the same year, 302 girls aged 15-19 years old have given birth to their 4th child and 60 girls in the same age range are already mothers to 5 children. In an age where they should be busy going to school and worrying about school projects, they are burdened with the heavy responsibilities of parenthood

However, some girls are not as lucky. One of the youngest reported maternal death in the Philippines was a girl who died of child birth at the age of 11, a child in every sense of the word. In the Philippines, 128 per 1,000 girls aged 15-19 have died while giving birth while 255 per 1,000 girls aged 20-24 died in birthing rooms across the country. The gift of life shouldn't have to come at the cost of another, Mr. President.

In light of this, the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender equality presents to this chamber Committee Report 45 or the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2020. This committee report consolidates Senate Bill 414 and 649 by Senator Marcos and Senator Revilla, respectively and Senate Bill 161 by yours truly.

This committee report was carefully written in order to ensure that it is a legislation that pushes for the rights of adolescents and their evolving capacities, one that is rooted in the principles of human rights and supported by interventions backed by evidence.

This bill pushes for the social protection of young parents by ensuring that our young mothers are getting the health care necessary at all stages of her pregnancy. Workshops and counseling services are also to be made available for them to ensure that they can get the all help and counsel they need when it comes to raising their child. By providing them with much needed guidance and information, we can prevent repeat pregnancies among our young mothers while we ensure their physical and mental well-being as they take on the heavy responsibilities of parenthood.

Special care is also accorded to first time parents, especially those who are economically disadvantaged and those who are in marginalized and hard to reach groups who may have limited access to healthcare and life-saving information.

The bill also provides strong protection for young girls and pushes for their right to continue their education despite the barriers presented to them. Flexible learning options are proposed in order to minimize the chances of disrupted education and to encourage young parents to continue and finish their education. Disrupting a girl's education because of her pregnancy exacerbates poverty. Low educational attainment adversely effects the lifelong earnings of a girl for the rest of her life. Education is so important, Mr. President. So much so that if we do not take our girls back to school, we stand to lose 33 billion pesos in lost income.

Moreover, the bill recognizes the fact that young Filipinos are heaving earlier sexual initiations, sometimes unwanted and usually unprotected. The 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study reported that 23% of Filipino youth are having sex before the age of 18. This bill recognizes this reality and has made measures to equip our children with the knowledge and guidance to make choices that they believe are the best for themselves. Schools, parents, and guardians are recognized as important sources of unbiased and scientifically accurate information on sexual and adolescent reproductive health and as such, are respectively capacitated and trusted to deliver the correct and necessary information to our teenagers.

We cannot afford to have more and more children having children, Mr. President. The problem of adolescent pregnancy is completely preventable and doing little to prevent will end up in a lose-lose situation. It perpetuates the intergenerational cycle of poverty and robs our children of their childhood. It is our duty as legislators and as parents to provide them with the knowledge they need and to empower them to making good choices and informed decisions as they grow into adulthood.

Maraming Salamat po.

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