MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday endorsed for plenary approval a bill that seeks to prevent teenage pregnancy and institutionalize social protection for adolescent parents.
Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children and family relations, said teen pregnancy rate remains prevalent in the Philippines, with 24 babies born by young mothers every hour as of January 2020.
Taking a two-pronged approach, Senate Bill 1334 or Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2020 seeks to provide full and comprehensive information to adolescents of ages between 10 to 21 that can help prevent early and unintended pregnancies.
"And also to provide social protection of young Filipinos... to enable them to find their footing again, to actually complete their schooling, find decent jobs and establish livelihood," the senator said in her speech.
In 2016, the Philippines has recorded over 203,000 live births to adolescent Filipinas, Hontiveros said, citing report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
It went down to 183,000 in 2018, she said. But she noted that some 504 adolescent mother give birth every day in the country as of this year.
Under the bill, a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) shall be compulsory part of education "with the end goal of normalizing discussions about adolescent sexuality and reproductive health and to remove stigma from all levels."
The CSE shall include such topics as human sexuality, effective contraceptive use, disease prevention, gender equality and equity, and sexual violence, among others.
However, Senate President Tito Sotto raised concern on one of the bill's provisions urging the private sector, particularly communication service providers, to help promote CSE through short message service (SMS).
He also questioned how the government could help out-of-school youths, who, according to him, reportedly account for many of the teen pregnancies.
Sotto later suspended his interpellation, saying he would look into the records of past hearings before approving such measure.