30 to 50 pregnancies per year in PH are among ten-year-olds, Population Commission says

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

About 530 teenagers get pregnant daily, the Population Commission chief says (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) has raised the alarm about the growing number of pregnancies among teenagers as young as ten years old, amid the government calling teen pregnancy a “national social emergency.”

POPCOM Executive Director Juan Perez III said there is an average of 530 teenagers that get pregnant daily, and the figure has stayed above 500 since 2010. The number hit a high in 2017, when the agency recorded about 574 teen pregnancies per day.

Perez said they are taking a closer look at the 10 to 14 age group, saying they found a 50 percent increase of pregnancies since 2011, amounting to 2,000 cases. About 30 to 50 of these pregnancies are among ten-year-olds, Perez said.

“We’ve also noted that the numbers among the ten years old are around 30, 40, 50 every year, so one a week, a ten year-old is giving birth in this country,” Perez told CNN Philippines’ New Day.

This is likely the result of sexual abuse or incest, Perez mused.

Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia said last week teen pregnancy has become a “national social emergency” in the country with the numbers continuing to soar.

Perez said 16 percent of these are “repeat pregnancies.” He attributed the trend to the Supreme Court’s decision to remove a provision in the Responsible Parenthood Reproductive Health Law, which allowed minors who had miscarried to recieve family planning services without their parents’ consent.

“That teenager needs to get the consent from her mother, even if she is already a mother herself, so that has given us a problem with repeat pregnancies,” Perez explained.

Economic losses

Young mothers lose about ₱24 billion to ₱47 billion in earnings annually due to an early pregnancy, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

Having a child at an early age affects the teenager’s education and income, Perez said.

“They may have dropped out of school. That affects their wage income, so the wage income of teen parents is much lower than the average,” he said. “The danger [is] looking for jobs so that’s a big loss for young women of emerging families.”

POPCOM is currently coordinating with the Department of Education and Department of Health, he added, on programs to reach out to the youth to guide them on family planning and to ensure they receive the necessary health services.

Education chief Leonor Briones said her agency is working to address the problem through the K-12 curriculum.

“Why are we trying to develop new means of teaching, especially on health and early pregnancy? It’s because, as I’ve repeatedly said, by the time our learners graduate, everything we have taught them is already irrelevant. So we are developing in them the ability to accept change,” Briones said on August 22.

Senator Risa Hontiveros also filed a “Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Bill” on August 24, which sought to create a sex education program for the youth and to add more social protection programs for teen mothers.

"If we fail to act and do not guide the youth towards safe and healthy lifestyles, we will not just condemn young Filipinas to lives of poverty and suffering. We will also be hurting our country's chances for progress and development,” Hontiveros said.