A mother comforts her daughter, who is recuperating from dengue fever, in a hospital in Manila on Friday. Reuters
Manolo B. Jara, Staff Reporter
The Philippines is in the grip of a "national social emergency" arising from the unabated and alarming increase in the cases of too many Filipino teenage girls becoming mothers too soon, a senior cabinet official warned.
Ernesto Pernia, the socioeconomic planning secretary, raised the warning in a speech before the first ever summit to grapple with the emerging major problem of teenage pregnancies in suburban Pasay City in Metro Manila.
"The risk of not tackling the crisis ahead is clear — a large cross-section of families would be condemned to perpetual 'intergenerational poverty'," Pernia pointed out even as he revealed he would ask President Rodrigo "Rody" Duterte to issue an executive order acknowledging unabated teenage pregnancy as a "national social emergency." He also called on lawmakers to immediately enact laws aimed at helping reduce the problem before it gets out of hand.
Examples abound, Pernia said, citing findings of the National Demographic Health Survey in 2017, which showed that nine per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 19, have begun childbearing.
Such figure tended to increase even further when one zeroes in on the most vulnerable or impoverished population, with findings that 10 per cent of the country's teenager start to get pregnant, Pernia said.
He added that 10 per cent of teenagers in the rural areas have started childbearing, with the figure rising higher in some regions all located in Mindanao like Davao,18 per cent, as well as Northern Mindanao and Soccsksargen, both 15 per cent.
In a related development, Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the immediate approval of her bill called the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2918 aimed at helping solve the problem.
Hontiveros explained her bill was in reaction to Pernia's call for Congress to enact a law mandating the government to launch a comprehensive, age-appropriate programme to better inform the teenagers and their parents over issues involving say, sex and reproductive health.
The bill, Hontiveros said, also mandates more social protection programmes for teenage mothers like accessible maternal health services, workshops and livelihood projects especially those who were victims of sexual abuse or violence.
"If we fail to act and do not guide the youths towards safe and healthy lifestyles, we would not just condemn the young Filipinos to lives of poverty and suffering. We will also be hurting our country's chances for progress and development," Hontiveros said.
She asked: "How can we say the youth is the hope of the Motherland if they themselves carry a heavy burden?"
The mother was left in tears following the incident at her son’s wedding on March 31. After seeing a birthmark on the hand of the bride, the mother was shocked and recalled her daughter having a similar one.
A Filipino IT professional took a 9-hour-long flight from Dubai to Philippines to surprise his parents whom he hasn't seen for the last five years.
"The state... views child marriage as a practice constituting child abuse because it debases, degrades, and demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of children," the law states.
Sheikh Sultan stressed the importance of teaching the Arabic language to students, and developing its teaching methods, and encouraging students to learn it.
The new station is equipped with fully automated fuel systems with auto tank gauging and electronic leak detection systems, which is in line with ENOC’s commitment to foster sustainability across the nation
The bridge, which will open to the public on Sunday, will slash the distance between the capital, Dhaka, and Bangladesh’s second largest seaport, Mongla, by 100 kilometres.
"While this bill doesn't do everything I want, it does include actions I've long called for that are going to save lives," he said at the White House before leaving for two major diplomatic summits in Europe.