MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The former legal officer of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Monday sued the Department of Education for incorporating sex education in the curriculum of elementary and high school students.
In an interview, lawyer Jo Aurea Imbong said she filed the case in behalf of 30 concerned parents who opposed the sex education plan. She described the sex education program as a form of "contraceptive imperialism" that assaults moral sensibilities and values of young people and actually encourages sexual promiscuity.
"We have examined the modules being used by DepEd and found that it promotes family planning, reproductive health and demographic development in subjects such as Mathematics, Science and English. It is specifically designed to transform the attitudes, behavior and social norms of young people based on a foreign model," she told abs-cbnNEWS.com.
Imbong said the class suit aims to stop DepEd from implementing Memorandum No. 26, which integrates sex education in the curriculum for private and public schools. She said the program changes the attitudes and values of children especially in Christian families.
Imbong said sex education was already being implemented in the basic education curriculum 12 years ago, and the new DepEd memo only updates the modules.
She said adopting the sex education plan will fast-track moral decay among young people who are exposed to sex at an early age. "While curiosity is normal for young people, it is still the primary responsibility of the parents and families to inform their children about sex," she said.
She also noted that the sex education program is receiving funding from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).
In response, Education Secretary Mona Valisno said the sex education program is still being pilot-tested and that the discussions will focus on the science of reproduction, physical care and hygiene, correct values and the norms of interpersonal relations to avoid premarital sex and teenage pregnancy.
She said the Deped consulted different sectors about the program including the CBCP and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas. She said parents who were consulted about the program were very happy with it especially since it provides relevant information to children.
She also questioned why a court case was filed especially since the program does not contradict the mandate of DepEd to protect children's rights to quality education.
"Our curriculum doesn't talk about condoms and such. It's only exposure to the children to the right information in order for them to make the right decision...Kung hindi natin kailangan, then the new secretary of education can change it," she told ANC.
She said the sex education plan seeks to battle the high percentage of unwarranted pregnancies in the country, which is one of the 10 highest in the world, and prevent dropouts as a result of teenage pregnancies.
She said the topics integrated into the modules will be scientific and informative and are not designed to titillate prurient interest.
In Science, sex education topics will cover the reproductive system, parts of the body, reproductive cycle, and puberty.
Under Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP), proper behavior among and between peers of different genders will be discussed.
In Health classes under MAPEH (Music, Arts, PE and Health), personal hygiene and reproductive health will be part of the lessons.
In Heograpiya, Kasaysayan, at Sibika (HEKASI) classes, discussion will include the position of religion on premarital sex and the norms when people of opposite sex interact.
Finally, in Math classes, data on issues like premarital sex, teenage pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections will be used in studying mathematical analysis and statistics.