House OKs bill creating council to prevent teenage pregnancies

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6) – The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to create an inter-agency council to prevent teenage pregnancies.

Under House Bill 8910 or the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Act, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Inter-Agency Council (APPIAC) will serve as a policy making body in charge of formulation and implementation of programs centered on the prevention, counseling and post-delivery care of teenage pregnancy.

It will be led by the Commission on Population (POPCOM) executive director along with the Council for the Welfare of Children executive director as co-chairperson.

APPIAC members would be senior officials (at least undersecretary) of the Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Commission on Higher Education, Philippine Commission on Women, National Youth Commission, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The chairpersons of the leagues of provinces, cities and towns; two representatives from women's rights groups; one adolescent representative; and one youth representative will also be included in the council.

In a statement on Tuesday, Speaker Martin Romualdez said the bill aims to address the social problem of early pregnancy, which has adverse effects on both the mother and the baby, and on society in general.

"The social cost of this issue and the negative impact on the national budget could run into billions – in terms of the government having to take care of young mothers and their babies. There is also the human development aspect," he said.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, meanwhile, said enacting a law aimed at avoiding adolescent pregnancy is critical to institutionalize policies and strategies to prevent adolescent pregnancy and provide social protection to young mothers and their infants.

"It will save young girls from the clutches of maternal death, unemployment, poverty, improve their future and reinforce their self-esteem," Lagman, who also authored the bill, added.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that pregnancy among women aged 15 to 19 in the country were at 5.4%, or 5,531, in 2022.

It added that a higher number of pregnancies were recorded in rural areas (6.1%) compared to those in urban areas (4.8%).