MANILA - The Commission on Population and Development (Popcom) has expressed concerns on the rising number of minors or “young” fathers in the Philippines.
Based on the figures gathered from the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were around 5,054 fathers who were below 18 years old in 2018, a leap from 3,148 in 2010, according to Popcom.
While adolescent mothers prefer to be pregnant at a later age— 20 years old and above— young fathers do not think the same way, Popcom Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez said.
“Those who became mothers at a young age, ang sinasabi nila hindi nila gustong magka-anak pa at that age… yung mga kalalakihan na mga batang ama ‘pag tinanong mo, wala talaga silang consciousness about that," explained Perez.
(Young mothers said they don't want to get pregnant at their age, but young fathers don't have any consciousness regarding the matter.)
"It’s more that 'yung relationship ang gusto nila, ma-achieve, 'yun without really saying na wala silang idea kung kelan nila gustong magka-anak. But they want siguro, they want to have children,” he added.
(While they want to achieve relationships, they don't have any idea when is the right age for them to be a father.)
Teen pregnancies have been a cause for concern in recent years.
The commission said children as young as 10 to 14 years old had an estimated 7 live births every day in 2019 for a total of 2,411.
There were 178,505 live births, meanwhile, among teenage mothers aged 15 to 19 years old during the same year.
But Perez said the early menses among girls, influences of peers, internet and absence of parental guidance could be key reasons behind early pregnancies.
“Based on demographic health survey of early 2000, only 10 percent of parents are talking to their children about sexuality. Hindi pinag-uusapan sa bahay eh (it is not being talked about in their homes)” the Popcom chief added.
Dulce Elfa, the Department of Health's (DOH) Disease and Prevention and Control Bureau supervising health program officer, meanwhile, noted that reproductive health discussions remained a taboo among parents.
This is the reason why minors hesitate to share their thoughts on the matter to their parents.
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"The concept of 'hiya' prevents them from speaking... nahihiya tayo sa mga parents nating magtanong when it comes to sexual and reproductive health," Elfa explained.
(They are embarrassed to talk about it to their parents. We are shy to talk about it with them)
"Ang ginagawa nalang nila, naggu-google-google na lang, nag se- search sa internet or peer to peer talk ang mas preferred nila... when they open their sexuality they are frowned upon," the health official said.
(They search the internet instead, or talk about it with their peers.)
Perez admitted, however, that it is time to reach out to child fathers.
“In terms of communication we also have to reach out to the batang ama,’’ he said.
PROGRAMS TO CURB ADOLESCENT PREGNANCIES
To control unwanted pregnancies, Popcom came up with online shows and platforms, and opening of the family planning warehouses in Bicol, Zamboanga, Davao and Cotabato.
Family planning services are also offered also in a facility in Mandaluyong.
The DOH, meanwhile, launched a program called “I Choose” with a hashtag #MalayaAkongMaging to promote healthy options for the youth and encourage them to make ”informed choices”.
Part of this program entails making current government health facilities “adolescent- friendly”, and to conduct studies to find out the issues affecting the youth especially during the pandemic.
“Dapat trained ang mga health staff kung ano ba ang tamang approach para mas maintindihan nila yung mga adolescents,” Elfa said.
(Health staff should be trained on the right approach so they would understand the matter)
“Kasi may mga pag-aaral na nag sasabi na ang ating mga health care workers ay judgmental, may bias, so that limits our adolescents to access health information and services sa ating health facilities.”
(There are studies that state our health care workers are judgmental or biased.)